Many thousands of drivers in the US have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The vast majority of these drivers have an interlock because a court or DMV have ordered one after a DUI offense. But a significant number of drivers come to Monitech to have interlocks installed voluntarily. Usually they request an interlock for one of four reasons:
- To prevent bad decisions. You’ve had a few drinks, and you really should take a taxi home, but your car is right outside, and would be so convenient not to have to pick it up the next day… Not all people arrested for DUI are problem drinkers. Some people are poor judges of how much they can drink and still be capable of driving a vehicle. In fact, it’s almost always less than you think. While the legal standard for drunkenness in the U.S. is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08, a driver’s abilities to judge distances and react quickly are affected at levels over .05. Coincidentally, alcohol also impairs one’s ability to judge if one is impaired. That is why some drivers stay safe with an interlock – they know that it will protect them from a bad decision on a party night.
- To keep young drivers safe. Underage drinking is a serious problem, and it leads to a large share of alcohol-related road fatalities. We sometimes see parents come in and request an interlock, because their kids are now at driving age. In addition to their penchant for taking risks and their feelings of invulnerability, teenagers are likely to drink more at a given session. And of course, they are less experienced drivers overall. Parents sleep better knowing that even if their teenagers drink, they won’t get behind the wheel.
- To prevent employee liability. Some employers have made it standard practice to install ignition interlocks in their company vehicles. Doing so keeps employees safe, and also avoids any legal action that could arise from an alcohol-related crash.
- As a recovery aid. Anyone who is undergoing alcohol treatment knows that the more support you get, the more likely that you will succeed. An ignition interlock offers an extra level of support for people in abstinence or other recovery programs. Michigan has had notable success combining their DUI court (offering supervision and treatment) with an ignition interlock (allowing mobility and access to meetings and work).
Drunk driving claims thousands of lives each year. If there’s a possibility that you, your loved ones, or anyone you’re responsible might be drinking and driving, you owe it to yourself – and to them – to consider an ignition interlock. It’s an available, inexpensive, and most importantly, a proven means of saving lives, and that includes the lives of those close to you.