Can ignition interlock devices be a driving hazard?
Ignition interlock devices are increasingly being installed on the dashoards of repeat DUI offenders. In fact, from 2001 to 2002 IID court orders increased almost 75%. The benefits are clear. IIDs prevents drunk driving by stopping would-be drunken drivers from turning on their cars. IID systems log and record each breathalyzer session to report back to courts. Routine service is required every 30-60-90 days, and failure to service will lead to a permanent lockout.
But critics look at the random “rolling tests” as possible highway hazards. These rolling re-tests occur five minutes after ignition and then randomly in 5-30 minutes increments to prevent the possibility of a sober friend from assisting an intoxicated driver and breathing into the IID to start the engine. Three consecutive refusals to provide a rolling retest, or three breath tests over the set point will start the horn honking and emergency lights flashing.
Breathing into a breathalyzer while driving (sometimes for 6 seconds) is, to me, a real risk. Simply put, I wouldn’t want to be driving down the road and have someone coming the other way trying to blow into a tube. I was witness to an accident where a driver looked down to change the radio station. How long does THAT take?
If possible, I’d suggest that the manufacturers create a 5 minute window during which time a driver can pull over and safely administer the test again. Impairment via distraction can cause serious harm during driving. Rolling retests are designed to remove the possibility of a fraudulent first test, but I think that while the technology is rather new and in its beginning phases, the re-test needs amendment.
What do you think? Are IIDs doing more good than harm? Should manufacturers continue to evolve the technology? Is the rolling re-test a good idea at all? Are you ready to take action, like MADD’s call for advocacy and support IID legislation?