Drunk driving is viewed as a serious crime in America, and the practice results in heavy penalties in every state. Often, a person convicted of DUI will face heavy fines, license suspension and possibly even jail time. In many places, those penalties have been changing and growing as the years go by and new technology becomes available.
One key piece of technology that is coming into play is the ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock is a device that is hard-wired into a vehicle by an auto mechanic. The device acts as a barrier to the car’s ignition. The car will not start unless the driver breathes into a Breathalyzer device, which is permanently installed near the driver’s seat. When a driver gets into a car with an ignition interlock, he or she must successfully complete the Breathalyzer test before the car will start. If the test detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, however, the ignition interlock will disable the vehicle, preventing it from starting.
The device also requires periodic testing while the vehicle is underway. This prevents the car from being started by someone other than the driver. If the driver fails to provide a good breath sample while the car is underway, the car will initiate an “alarm” response with lights and horn, which continues until the car is stopped or a good breath sample is provided.
According to recent data, ignition interlock devices have been installed in over 10,000 vehicles in Maryland alone. Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently announced that the devices have been used in nearly 305,000 vehicles nationwide. MADD claims the devices are useful in lowering the number of drunk driving deaths that occur each year.
Ignition interlock devices can be used in many cases as an alternative to a more serious penalty, such as jail time. The amount of time one must use the ignition interlock can also be negotiated, depending on the circumstances of the defendant’s case. This is just one more area where experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide options and advice that may not be common knowledge among their clients.
The Washington Post, “Over 19,000 drivers use ignition interlocks in Maryland and Virginia” Ashley Halsey III, Nov. 11, 2013