Drunk driving accidents in Virginia and throughout the United States lead to nearly 11,000 fatalities and 315,000 injuries every year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Many of these accidents and deaths are preventable, as at least a third of these tragedies come from repeat offenders.
Ignition interlock devices are a way to prevent DUI offenders from continuing to drive drunk and risking everyone’s lives in the process. Many states, including Virginia, have enacted laws requiring all DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. What are these devices and how do they help save lives?
What are ignition interlock devices?
When a state-approved ignition device distributor installs a machine in a vehicle, they wire them directly into the ignition system of the car. Before the car will start, the convicted drunk driver must exhale a breath sample into a tube connected to the device. If the machine detects a certain amount of alcohol in the breath sample, the car will lock up and will not start. Offenders must then wait a certain period of time before they can attempt to start the car again.
The devices store information, such as dates and times of startup attempts, measured blood alcohol content levels and lockouts. This data is then transmitted to law enforcement during the required maintenance appointment.
How do ignition interlock devices help?
According to research reported by MADD, ignition interlock devices have stopped more than three million drunk driving attempts over a 12 year period. Each attempt to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol that was halted may have potentially saved a life. The courts grant certain convicted drunk drivers the right to a restricted driver’s license under the conditions of having an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle they are registered to drive.
As people continue to make the choice to drink, drive and endanger lives, ignition interlock devices help to minimize the damage that may occur.