Category: General Information

TIRF Ignition Interlock Statistics

In early 1989, the founder of Monitech approached the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) about using the emerging technology of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) as a highway safety measure. The BAIID would allow drivers who had had multiple DWI convictions and their licenses revoked to legally drive again by requiring them to provide an alcohol breath sample before starting their cars. This would prove to the NCDMV that these drivers had changed their behavior; it would further provide the NCDMV with the assurance that repeat DWI offenders were no longer endangering the motoring public.

At that time, and still to this day, the NCDMV had a “conditionally restored” program for repeat DWI offenders: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-19(d) & (e).  Repeat DWI offenders could obtain a conditionally restored drivers license if (1) their license had been revoked for at least three years and (2) they could produce three witnesses who swore under oath that the offender had not used alcohol in at least one year. However, until the BAIID was developed, the NCDMV had no way of ensuring that the conditionally restored driver was actually abstaining from the use of alcohol before or during vehicle use.

The Pilot Program

So the NCDMV acted upon Monitech’s recommendation and founded the BAIID program under the following pretenses: 1) they would control the rules and fee structure of the program and 2) Monitech would incur all investment costs in personnel, services centers and equipment. The pilot program, which started with restrictions to 100 participants’ conditionally restored driver’s licenses, required Monitech’s device to record a breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 as a WARN, a 0.04 -0.07 as a FAIL and a 0.08+ as a HIGH FAIL. These set points assured the NCDMV that N.C. roads would be safer.

Monitech was the first company in the nation to develop and deploy a BAIID using fuel cell technology to more accurately measure breath alcohol (the same technology used in most law enforcement breath testing instruments). It also increased its number of service centers statewide for customer convenience. While many states were hosting multiple BAIID providers, the NCDMV continued its partnership exclusively with Monitech for years. Though requests for proposals were put out for bid several times, Monitech was the only provider willing to invest in the technology and facilities necessary to provide statewide coverage.

For 22 years, Monitech served North Carolinians as their sole provider. In 2011, the NCDMV opened the state to multiple vendors and now Monitech shares friendly competition with Smart Start and Alcolock.

What’s an ignition interlock device?

  • A small breath analyzer that requires a clean, alcohol-free breath sample by a driver in order to start a vehicle.

What’s the purpose of the device?

  • Ignition interlocks are used across the nation as an alternative to license revocation.
  • When the law takes away individuals’ licenses for a substantial period of time, life as they know it becomes difficult (i.e. supporting a job, family and normal lifestyle).
  • Ignition interlocks are an alternative to revocation. They provide those convicted of a DWI with the opportunity to prove they can be responsible drivers again.
  • That’s why Monitech calls it the ‘road to redemption.’

Which drivers are required to have an ignition interlock device by N.C. law?

  • Those convicted of a DWI type offense with a 0.15 or higher BAC
  • Those with a prior DWI conviction or record required to drive an ignition interlock-equipped vehicle

How long are individuals required to have an ignition interlock device?

  • Terms range from one to 10 years depending on the number of convictions.
  • Driving a vehicle without the required device is illegal and will result in a revocation of all rights to drive for at least one additional year.

What’s the one thing an ignition interlock device is looking for?

  • Alcohol (also known as ethanol)

What’s required to start a car with an ignition interlock device?

  • A clean, alcohol free breath sample.

What steps are involved in the process?

  • A unique PIN to ensure that only the authorized driver is activating the test
  • A clean, alcohol-free breath sample
  • The driver must blow and hum continuously for eight seconds.
  • After a completed and successful breath test, the driver can start the vehicle.

What happens if the device detects alcohol?

  • If the device records a FAIL, a noncompliance report is sent to the DMV.

Can anything other than alcohol (ethanol) set off the device?

  • A FAIL can occur due to mouth contaminants.

What are examples of mouth contaminants?

  • Some foods and drinks other than beer, wine and liquor include alcohol type ingredients.

What should you do if your device detects a mouth contaminant?

  • If a driver consumes a mouth contaminant before activating the device, it will result in a WARN or FAIL.
  • The driver should wait five minutes, rinse thoroughly with water and retest.

By that time, any contaminant should have dissipated.

  • A second test will represent your accurate BAC.

What does the Monitech device look like?

How do I get more information about ignition interlock devices?


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