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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

IID, What's that?

If you, a friend, coworker or family member has had a DUI within the past couple years than you know what an IID is, an ignition interlock device. They are placed in cars after someone has a DUI. It hooks up to the ignition and the driver has to blow into it and pass before the car will start. I tested one for myself and have to say I was greatly annoyed and distracted by the device. It is a simple black handheld device on a long curly cord, similar to a phone cord, and it contains lights that flash passing or failing. It also beeps to alert the driver's attention.

Here is the short version of my experience. I sat down and turned the ignition on until the lights and radio worked then had to wait for the machine to beep. Once it beeped I had to blow into it and while blowing I had to hum. I believe that part lasted approximately six seconds. I then had to wait for the lights to flash pass before starting the car. After five minutes of driving it alerted me to complete a rolling check, breathing into the machine while driving. After another approximately twenty minutes I had to do another rolling check. What I found distracting was the awful wailing beep and grabbing for the machine while keeping my eyes on the road. 

My questions are, have drunk driving fatalities been reduced since IID's have been placed in cars and how many accidents have been caused be a driver with an IID that was distracted by it? According to MADD dated 11/14/2013, less than a month ago, fatalities have increased by 4.6%. MADD also stated that twenty states have laws requiring drink driver's to install IID's. I checked http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/state-ignition-interlock-laws.aspx for myself and counted twenty seven states that have IID laws and regulations but I didn't count how many for first time offenders. If nearly half the country is requiring these devices than why have drunk driving fatalities gone up? Are these devices really working? On the other hand it is good discipline to the driver. The car won't start unless the driver blows and passes. 

How many accidents have been caused by distracted driver's using IID's? Before I answer that question all fifty states have laws at some level banning the use of cell phones either texting/ talking or both according to GHSA because of distracted drivers, so why wouldn't an ignition interlock device be distracting? There isn't enough information presently to determine the number of accidents caused by the use of an IID although I did find individual stories and cases of people who have had problems with them especially the rolling tests and even some accidents. The DUI DWI foundation itself has said that dangers from the rolling tests have been documented because it's a distraction. Follow the link to read in it's entirety. http://www.duifoundation.org/news/ignition-interlock-devices-may-increase-accidents.html

I found a forum called the NMA blog Ignition Interlocks where people discuss their issues with the device and I found it quite interesting. I failed to mention earlier that the device is touchy and a person who has consumed no alcohol may fail. It is good to drink some water before blowing into the machine to rinse away food and other liquids.

To sum everything up I see no definitive evidence that ignition interlock devices work however it can't be ignored that they are a distraction to the driver. Food for thought; Is there something more effective that can be done to prevent drunk driving?

The author of this blog doesn't support drunk driving. She is merely being the devil's advocate.



  1. Interesting detail. I can see the value of the device in preventing driving, but it doesn't make sense that it continue during driving. That's worse than cell phone use.
    If the person is addicted enough to drink behind the wheel after passing the test, they shouldn't have a licence. That's a medical issue they should be screened for.

  2. I agree with you. If they start the car sober and then open a drink, why do they have a license?