Ignition Interlock Background At A Glance

Ignition Interlock Background At A Glance

An ignition interlock is a device that
was created to prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol,
therefore preventing accidents and deaths. An ignition interlock device is an apparatus
that is installed on the dashboard of a motor vehicle. The device requires the
driver to breathe into it, much like a breathalyzer
stateThe ignition interlock device is made up
of a sensor that utilizes an ethanol-specific fuel cell through which the
alcohol endures a chemical oxidation reaction at a catalytic electrode surface,
generating an electric current. The electric current that is made, is then
measured and converted into alcohol equivalent reading. During its function, the
driver will be required to breathe into the ignition interlock device,
providing it with a breath sample. Once the breath sample is clean, the engine
will start and the person is ready to drive. If the breath sample contains a
higher BAC than the one set on it, the engine will not start until it receives
a clean breath sample. Some people think they can bypass the device by having a
friend breathe into it for them, and once the engine starts they are home free.
This is false, the device can ask for a reading during operation to verify its
results. Should the reading come back above the BAC limit, the car will set off
alarms such as flashing lights or horns honking, alerting people (mainly police
officers) until the car is safely pulled over and shut off. People once
believed that if it read while driving and the result came back that way, that
the car would simply shut off. This is absurd for many reasons, it would pose
safety issues for not only the driver but also the drivers around him if the
engine simply shut off on a highway. That is why the device does not have the
power to shut off the car engine, simply to impede it from starting. Doing so
doesn’t mean that the person gets away with it though. Since these devices are
mainly court ordered, they are checked and calibrated at 30-90 day intervals.
The device logs any data into the vehicles electrical system of its activity,
and this activity is downloaded every time the device is calibrated. If the
activity shows some violations, a judge can impose additional penalties for the

 These devices have been used as an
alternative to sentencing in almost all of the United States’ 50 states, and
are imposed as well in Canada. More and more DUI offenders are being required
to install these devices in their vehicles, especially repeat offenders. The
devices themselves are said to cost about $75 US Dollars to maintain, which is
usually paid for by the offender (similar to ankle bracelets for people under
house arrest).

Easy to Understand Legal Arguments

Easy to Understand Legal Arguments

Ignition Interlock Devices (IID's) have long been the topic of debate on a few different grounds. Most of the arguments are whether or not these devices serve their purpose. Another discussion that is brought up is the long term effects of utilizing this device and vehicles, both benefits and drawbacks. The arguments on both sides are taken into consideration and are put up against their pros and cons to make the correct determination based on all the facts.

Since the IID's were initially installed in vehicles, they have faced both praise and opposition. The praise comes from several angles and well overpowers those opposed. These devices have helped lower the number of drunk drivers on the road, and deter repeat DUI offenders from committing another offense. The mechanisms serve as an extended arm of DUI enforcement to protect the people from harming themselves as well as others on the road.

In relation to the statistics showing the positive effects of IID's in obvious numbers, some have taken a step further to try to introduce the devices on a more permanent, and court ordered basis. Most states use IID's as an alternate option to sentencing, or only when a repeat offender has been caught again.

Several politicians are trying to change that, and try to join other states on permanently installing the devices on people that have been charged with DUI regardless. They believe that using this device for a period of 5 months or more on a vehicle can cause the driver to get in the habit of driving sober all the time, even after the device is removed from the vehicle. Based on this reasoning they are trying to pass bills in their states to have IID's installed in the vehicles of all people convicted of drunk driving.

The argument from the other side comes from the general public mainly, stating that passing such a bill would prevent a judge from making a decision based on character of how to penalize the person charged with the offense. Meaning, the judge would not have the option to distinguish between a person who seems like a belligerent drunk, or one that took an extra sip of a drink that particular day, and punish the person based on that. Still, those in favor of the bill state that the BAC reading taken from their offense, as well as the police report, can show those things to a judge.

Using that information, they can base the length of the installment of the device on the vehicle. Those in favor of the passing of such bills, and court ordered device installation seem to have a much more structured, and well prepared argument supporting their decision. Some states already require the installation of a device within a certain time period after one has been charged with a drunk driving offense. 


For the most part, the Ignition Interlock Device seems to be an extremely positive means of helping lower the rate of drunk drivers out on the road. In direct response to the data provided as proof, more states are joining in on making these devices mandatory for DUI offenders, and most likely more will with time.

Prevalence and Implementation Explained

Prevalence and Implementation Explained

Ignition Interlock Devices or IID’s have been the topic of widespread discussion and little debate. For the most part the general population approves them and confirms that they assist in preventing drunk drivers from going out on our roadways and putting our lives in danger. A few people however, tend to argue that the device is unsafe to the driver (mainly people who have them court ordered.)

Nobody likes to get in trouble, or be made an example of, so if someone that was convicted of  DUI has to drive around with an electronic device telling them when they can or can’t drive their vehicle it’s going to bring some conflict. The people that end up with the device in their car argue that it is unsafe to their driving, and interferes with safety.

Some have argued in court that the device allowed them to drive drunk (after having someone else provide a breath sample) and that it led them to crash. Others in the same situation stated that the device let them inaccurately start their car and when providing the next sample they lost control and crashed.  The same was` said about people trying to provide samples during the rolling test. Later these people were found to be drunk, and attempted to bypass the system.

Every measurement is going to have a window of inaccuracy but because of the chemical fuel cell in this device, it works in providing extremely accurate samples when dealing with alcohol. Just like with every technology though, people will try to blame its possibility of inaccuracy on their attempt to bypass it.

For the most part, this has failed, which has maintained the credibility of the product. IID’s are used widely across the United States and Canada either as an alternative to harsher sentencing, or in addition to it. The device has helped keep an insurmountable amount of car engines off, when those cars otherwise would have been out of the roadways.

If that was the case, who knows what accidents they could’ve caused, what lives they could’ve taken, to think about that makes people more grateful that such a device exists.  The ability for the enforcers to monitor all the data of activity from the device during calibration has proved as an effective tool to keep offender from trying to tamper with, or bypass the device.

By checking statistics on the web sites of the manufacturers of IID’s, one can see the incredible number of people that these devices have kept off the road. IID’s can be seen as an electronic form of law enforcement, for when a police officer isn’t at the right place at the right time. This provides added assistance to them for catching DUI offenders and preventing them from driving any further, in addition to DUI checkpoints. 

IID’s are clearly a huge help to our society, people, courts, law enforcement agencies, and the lives of people. These little devices make a huge impact on how we try to prevent crime from occurring and are successful in doing so.