Ignition interlock devices are special devices which are required after certain drunk driving convictions. The devices aim to prevent further DUIs after a person has been convicted of an impaired driving offense. An ignition interlock device (IID) literally makes it impossible for a motorist to drive while drunk- unless he goes to great lengths to do so- because the device requires a driver to blow into a breathalyzer test before starting to drive. If his BAC registers too high, the car will not start.
Every state has its own laws for ignition interlock devices, and every state requires the use of these devices in certain circumstances. Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants the devices to be mandatory for all DUI convictions, even first offenses, which would raise the stakes of drunk driving charges considerably since having an IID installed is a costly and burdensome process.
MADD has recently published research backing up its claims about ignition interlock devices being effective at reducing impaired driving rates, and this research could potentially lead to states including Pennsylvania passing stricter rules for when IIDS will be needed.
Could More DUIs be Prevented if Ignition Interlock Devices Were Used More?
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlock devices installed in vehicles have prevented more than 2.3 million situations since 2006 where a motorist may have driven drunk. This information comes from research into how often a driver blows into the ignition interlock device and is found to have a BAC which is too high for him to be allowed to drive.
Thousands of those drivers who were stopped from driving drunk live in Pennsylvania. Since 2006, 65,575 drunk driving attempts have been thwarted in PA as a result of mandatory ignition interlock device use, according to MADD. Just in the past one year alone, there have been 5,370 incidents in which drivers had high BACs when blowing into their IID and thus weren't able to drive.
With so many motorists being stopped from impaired driving, you might assume the use of ignition interlock devices is very widespread. The reality, however, is PA doesn't mandate the use of IIDs in every situation where MADD believes such a mandate would be appropriate and beneficial.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a motorist is required to install an IID only after being convicted of a second or subsequent drunk driving offense. When a motorist is mandated to have an ignition interlock device, he must install it in each car he owns, operates, or will be leasing for a year. This means a motorist could be required to install an IID in a work car if he drives it regularly, which could be very embarrassing and which could potentially impact a professional career.
If Pennsylvania changes the law in response to MADD's pressure to make IIDs mandatory after all drunk driving offenses- as many states are doing- this could result in many more circumstances under which motorists must bear the burden of an IID in their cars. Fighting conviction will become more important than ever.