Preventing Repeat DUI Offenders

Every year across the United States, people are killed as a result of accidents involving alcohol.
In 2005, 24% of drivers who were involved in fatal traffic accidents were under the influence of alcohol.

There are many penalties in place for those who are found guilty of driving while drunk. They range from jail time and probation to fines and license suspension. But even these punishments might not keep people from drunk driving again once they are allowed behind the wheel of a car.

Repeat DUI offenders make up about a third of drunk driving arrests every year. Even though their licenses may be revoked, it is estimated that about 50-75% of these people will still drive even without a license.

This is where technology comes in. Ignition interlock devices are mechanisms that make it impossible to start a vehicle if the driver cannot pass a breath test. This test measures the breath alcohol level. If this test is above a preset limit (typically from .02% to .04%), the ignition will not be allowed to work. This prevents people from driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The system also asks for tests randomly after the car has been started. If the person driving fails to provide a breath sample, or is over the breath alcohol content limit, an alarm will sound until the car is turned off. This deters people from having someone sober breathe into the system to start the car or from drinking while driving after the initial test has been passed.

The offender pays for the device, instead of tax dollars going to the punishment. These extra fees may help to deter people from drinking and driving.

The ignition interlock device helps to reduce the number of subsequent offences by 50% to 90%, as compared to offenders who were not ordered to have the device installed.

These devices are not the only solution, as offenders can certainly revert to driving under the influence after the ignition interlock device is taken off. But while the device is in place, it makes the roads much safer for everyone.

There are estimated to be 31 states that do not make ignition interlock devices mandatory.