Tag: Ignition Interlock

ignition interlock programIf you’re new to the world of the ignition interlock – if you’ve recently had one installed in your vehicle, or have received an order to install one – you might be nervous about the outcome of your program. You might have even heard that it’s possible to make a mistake that can get your program canceled and your driving privileges revoked – even if you haven’t tried to drive after drinking.

The fact is, you can get through your ignition interlock program without problems. The devices are designed to be accurate and simple to operate. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you start your program. Here’s the list of things that will make your ignition interlock term go quickly and without a hitch:

1. Keep your battery in good condition. An ignition interlock is an electronic device, like a car stereo or a dashboard clock. As a matter of fact, it uses about as much current as your dashboard clock, so you shouldn’t have problems if your battery keeps a good charge.

But if you’ve been having problems with draining or dying batteries, now is the time to get a new one. And keep it fully charged by driving your vehicle at least every few days during your interlock term.

2. Rinse your mouth after eating. Bits of food and some liquids – pizza dough and fruit juices, for example – can actually ferment in your mouth and create alcohol. Your ignition interlock could pick that up and flash you a warning. So always keep a bottle of water nearby to rinse while you’re on the program.

3. Watch out for cold weather. Cold weather can make things tricky: they cause moisture from the air to freeze on the interlock’s components, so it can take longer to warm up the device. If your state allows you to detach the device and bring it in the house with you, then do that. Otherwise, your technician will give you the lowdown on the best way to keep the cold from slowing you down.

4. Don’t leave your car running while unattended. If you’re in the habit of letting your vehicle idle while you stand in the parking lot and socialize, now is a good time to alter that habit. The interlock doesn’t know you’re not in the driver’s seat, and it will prompt for a rolling re-test whether you’re there or not. If you’re not, it registers a refused test. Don’t let that happen – shut off your vehicle when you’re not driving.

5. Keep your monitoring appointment. Every month or two, depending on your state, you’ll be required to bring in your vehicle so the interlock can be calibrated and monitored. It’s vital that you keep your appointments, both to keep your ignition interlock working accurately and to fulfill the conditions of your suspension. If you need to change a scheduled monitoring appointment, call at least 24 hours in advance.

If you keep this short checklist in mind, you’ll get through your program and eventually your suspension will be a thing of the past. Good luck!


Ignition Interlock technology helps prevent repeat DWIs

Repeat DWI offenders are scary people. Once arrested, fined, and even jailed, they get back on the road despite the alcohol in their veins, and as a result they become extremely dangerous.

Like many states, North Carolina has a repeat DWI problem that it hasn’t fully addressed. Each year alcohol takes the lives of around 380 North Carolinians on the state’s roads – about a third of all road deaths. This carnage costs the state close to $2 billion. However, this could change for the better if two laws were passed.

Felony DWI – Should 2 Be Enough?

One way to handle such problems is to make DWI a felony – a crime punishable by a considerable jail term – after a certain number of convictions. Some states make the second DWI a felony, some a third. In North Carolina, one must get to four DWI convictions before felony charges are imposed.  That strikes public safety advocates as too lenient.

Last year an attempt was made to pass a bill which would have made DWI a felony after 2 prior convictions. It did not make it through the Senate, however.

 Ignition Interlocks – Needed for All DWI Offenders

One major change North Carolina could make would be to mandate ignition interlocks for all DWI offenses. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Right now 27 states have laws which require all DWI offenders, including first offenders, to install the device.  North Carolina orders the device for second offenses, and for first offenders only if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over .15. A bill that would extend interlocks to everyone convicted of DWI, HB 877/SB 619, did not make it through the short session of Congress.

For some, mandating the devices for all offenders seems like an extreme step, but in fact, the practice is known to reduce alcohol-related road fatalities significantly. Unlike jail, an interlock does not totally disrupt an offender’s life, and makes it easier, not harder, to obtain treatment and get one’s life back on track.

Another concern is the toll the increased interlock orders would make on the state, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) North Carolina notes that the structure is in place to extend interlocks to all DWIs. “North Carolina is ready for this to take place,” says LaRonda Scott, State Executive Director of MADD North Carolina. “It will significantly reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in our state.”

Ignition interlock providers here have agreed to waive installation fees. In addition, service centers are in place across North Carolina for convenient access.

MADD is hoping that the bill will continue its journey to the Governor’s desk next year, when the Assembly reconvenes.

Drunk drivers don’t change, so laws have to. The past few decades have shown what strong, well-enforced legislation can do to reduce the toll of impaired driving on our roads. It’s time for North Carolina to take these two next steps to save even more lives.

teens need an ignition interlockIt’s not easy being the parent of a teen. Every day can be a battle of wills, and your concern for their safety isn’t always appreciated. And when they drive, your worries multiply. Teens take risks: they speed, they are easily distracted, and too often they drink and drive.

Some parents have found a way to ease their worries: they install an ignition interlock device in their teen’s car. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

You might be aware that ignition interlocks, also called IIDs (ignition interlock devices) or BAIIDs (breath alcohol ignition interlock device) are often ordered for those convicted of drunk driving. In fact, 26 states now mandate the devices for all drunk driving offenses, including first offenses, and more states are following suit.

A Voluntary Ignition Interlock Makes Sense for Teens

It’s possible to contact an ignition interlock provider and have one installed on any vehicle, so that it can’t be started if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration above around .02 – far below the legal limit for drunkenness. Here’s why it makes sense to have one installed in your teen’s car:

  • Safety. Having an interlock means that the driver of your teen’s car will not be impaired. Since younger drivers are the most likely to get into collisions – and the most likely to drink and drive – your teen will be much safer in an interlock-equipped vehicle.
  • Peace of Mind. As a parent, you can’t help worrying about your teenager when they’re out driving. With the IID, you know that one danger has been eliminated.
  • Lower insurance costs. Depending on your state, the installation of an ignition interlock might get you a break on your insurance, which would be welcome considering how teen drivers are expensive to insure.
  • Instilling good habits. Having an interlock device teaches teens to think about driving if they do have alcohol. While providing alcohol to minors is illegal, teens will find ways to drink, and at least they’ll learn that driving is out of the question.

It’s not hard at all to have an ignition interlock installed in your teenager’s car. Just contact your provider and ask for a voluntary installation. The provider will install the device and train your teen and anyone else in its operation.

Life is chancy enough, and teens face enough risks on the road, without adding drunk driving to the mix. Consider being a champion parent and having this life-saving device installed in your teen’s car today.

If your vehicle has an ignition interlock – a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if you have been drinking – then you know that you need to blow more than one test to drive from A to B. Ignition interlock breath tests are part of the drill.

If you don’t have one, you might be wondering how an ignition interlock can keep a drunk driver off the road. After all, a driver can have a few drinks and then get a sober “friend” to perform the test. Right?

Ignition Interlock is Not Distracted DrivingIn fact, that problem was worked out before ignition interlocks were adopted by state governments. After you start your interlock-equipped vehicle by doing a breath test and proving you’re sober, you’re required to re-test periodically while driving, to make sure that you’re sober all during your journey. It’s called a rolling-re-test, and it’s one of the reasons that ignition interlocks have been so successful across the country.

Sometimes another question is raised: are those re-tests a dangerous distraction?

Short answer, no.

The Rolling Re-test: Ensuring Sobriety

There’s a saying in the study of distracted driving: “It’s not where your hands are, it’s where your head is.” What causes distracted driving is anything that occupies the mind and takes attention from the task at hand. The major factors are:

  • Cellphone conversations, hands-free or not
  • Texting
  • Wandering, preoccupied mind
  • Distracting events and objects outside the vehicle
  • Distractions from other people in the vehicle

With an ignition interlock rolling re-test, the driver hears a beep, breathes into the device, and then waits for another beep to tell them that the test was passed. It’s no more distracting than sipping a cup of coffee.

The dangerous distractions drivers face are the ones that occupy the mind. That’s what makes texting so deadly. The more that something occupies the mind, the greater the effect. And that is why drunk driving is so lethal: it occupies the mind totally, by reducing its ability to judge, react, see and even hear what’s going on around it.

So don’t worry about the effects of ignition interlock breath tests performed while driving. The device is safe to use, and it makes the roads safer for everyone by ensuring that those using it are sober while driving.

remove my ignition interlock time's up

If you’ve completed your ignition interlock term, and are eligible to have the device removed, then congratulations! You’ve stuck to the law and been sober behind the wheel for the prescribed amount of time. Now it’s time to get the device removed.

tamper-with-ignition-interlocksIf you’re handy with wire cutters and soldering irons, you might be tempted to save a few bucks and Google “remove my ignition interlock.” Then it’s just a matter of spending some time under the dashboard, right?

Don’t do it.

Ignition Interlock Removal – A Job For Professionals

Removing an ignition interlock is not a DIY project – not even close, for a number of reasons:

  • De-installation requires proprietary computer software not available to the public. Removal usually includes collecting data form the device for a final report.
  • The provider is required to notify authorities – either the DMV, court, or other entity – that the de-installation has been made.

It also is worth noting that ignition interlock device removal requires a good knowledge of automotive electronics. So unless you have a 1955 Rambler, you’ll run into problems restoring the electrical system to its former condition.

Most important, removing the device yourself will be considered tampering with the device. That is an offense in most states, which can result in fines and even an extension of your interlock term – exactly what you don’t want at this stage.

So if your time is up, just call your provider and say, “It’s time to remove my ignition interlock.” They’ll make you one last appointment for your interlock removal. And then you can enjoy a life of interlock-free, sober and safe driving.

MADD wants Ignition Interlock Last Tuesday the North Carolina General Assembly heard an impassioned plea: strengthen the state’s ignition interlock laws to prevent drunk driving.

The speakers included Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) president Colleen Sheehey-Church and MADD North Carolina Executive Director LaRonda Scott.

The law that would do the job is North Carolina HB 877/SB 619. Known as an all-offender ignition interlock law, it would require all drunk drivers who are convicted with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more to use an ignition interlock in their vehicle for a period. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Currently North Carolina’s law mandates interlocks for those convicted with a BAC of .15 or greater. The implication is that an .08 BAC is not serious enough to warrant the interlock. But a 160-pound man would have to drink four drinks inside of an hour to reach that .08. That’s a lot of alcohol, and a lot of impairment. Anyone driving at that level is a danger to everyone on the road.

Right now the .08 drunk driver is likely to get a suspended license and a fine. Neither of those does a good job preventing recidivism. In fact, more than half of suspended drivers ignore their suspensions and drive. Fines and even jail time don’t address the problem drinker who repeatedly makes the bad decision to drink and drive. Treatment is a valid and worthwhile option, but lapses occur. The ignition interlock is the only way to keep those drivers from driving drunk again and possibly injuring or killing someone – or themselves.

25 states now have all-offender ignition interlock laws, and one more will sign a similar bill into law this month. The tide is turning, and MADD is right about North Carolina’s need to catch that wave and pass HB 877/SB 619. Lives depend on it.

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