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 Repeat DWI offenders could obtain a conditionally restored drivers license if (1) their license had been revoked for at least three years and (2) they could produce three witnesses who swore under oath that the offender had not used alcohol in at least one year.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.