Can Ignition Interlocks End Drunk Driving?

There are many ways that we can combat drunk driving on Texas roadways. Tough penalties, an increased number of DWI officers, social awareness programs – these are all tools that we have at our disposal. However, many of these methods address the drunk driving problem only after the crime has already been committed. This is why “ignition interlocks” offer such great promise to make our roads safer.

Ignition interlocks are devices that deter drivers from operating their vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol content level over the legal limit. While they don’t necessarily prevent an inebriated driver from starting an engine, they notify the driver that he or she exceeds the legal limit; they also log the event and sound alarms. Many states, including Texas, have started incorporating these devices as a way to fight impaired driving. They offer many benefits, even if they don’t completely eliminate the threat of drunk driving.

When Ignition Interlocks Are Useful

Ignition interlocks actually prevent drunk driving, a quality that sets these devices apart from many other DUI enforcement efforts. If someone receives a DUI or DWI, an ignition interlock is installed on his or her vehicle. Drivers must then prove that they are sober when starting their vehicle.

Studies have shown that offenders with ignition interlocks installed in their vehicle are much less likely to repeat a DUI offense. That’s good news for road safety, and their effectiveness should make all state governments consider legislation mandating the use of these devices.

When Ignition Interlocks Aren’t Useful

There are a couple of situations in which ignition interlocks aren’t effective. The first is in the case of first-time offenders. MADD has said that the majority of drunk driving fatalities involve drivers with no prior drunk driving offenses. If someone hasn’t been given a DWI, then they obviously won’t have a device installed on their vehicle. So, in this particular case, an ignition interlock won’t solve the problem. There is no major push to have these devices installed on all vehicles, not even by MADD, one of the biggest proponents of ignition interlocks. This means that the impact of ignition interlocks will be mostly limited to repeat offenders.

The second exception is if a drunk driver operates a vehicle that is not their own. This scenario won’t be addressed by the use of ignition interlocks. It’s important to note that just because there are situations where ignition interlocks don’t work, it doesn’t mean that these devices are in any way detrimental. These are simply cases where they don’t apply.

Can People Bypass Ignition Interlocks?

There are YouTube videos and Internet forums where people claim to show how to override or bypass ignition interlocks. These methods include having a friend blow into the device or using compressed air to pass the Breathalyzer test. Both of the tactics are generally considered to be ineffective. Sensors detect breath temperature and pressure, rendering compressed air ineffective at tricking these devices.

Ignition interlocks often include cameras to make sure that the driver is the one performing the Breathalyzer test. Interlocks also require “rolling retests” which prompt the driver to perform another test while driving. This means that fooling an ignition interlock isn’t as easy as so-called experts on the Internet might have you believe.

Ignition Interlocks Won’t Be Effective Until They Are Mandatory

We can’t expect drunk driving offenders to voluntary equip their vehicles with these devices. That’s why we enact laws and enforce penalties in the first place. Until states require all DUI offenders to have ignition interlocks on their vehicles, they will do little in the way of combating drunk driving. Right now, it is up to states to require the use of ignition interlocks.

At Guajardo & Marks, we take the issue of drunk driving very seriously. We have represented many clients who have suffered at the hands of impaired drivers. If you or a loved has been injured due to a drunk driver in Dallas, then we might be able to help. Victims often seek justice in the form of personal injury claims to receive compensation for their pain, suffering, medical bills and property damage. Contact our Dallas drunk driving attorneys today to learn more about how we can help you. We charge no fee unless we win.