Can ignition interlock devices keep drunk drivers off the roads?

Bellingham and Whatcom County are no different than so many other US cities – we have our share of drunk drivers. Some are infamous, and receive steep sentences for the damage they cause. It’s an astounding fact, but the average drunk driver is arrested after driving drunk 80 times.

If a drunk driver is caught, does the time, pays the fines, does it mean that the lesson is learned, and he or she will no longer drink and drive? Unfortunately, the data says no.

Across the country, 2 million drunk drivers who have had three or more prior convictions are still on the road on any given day. That number nearly matches that of the entire population of Houston. An ignition interlock device can greatly reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.

What is an ignition interlock device?

A device about the size of a cell phone, the ignition interlock is wired into the ignition system of a drunk driver’s car. In order to start the car, the driver must first blow into the device, just like a breathalyzer. If it detects a measurable amount of alcohol in that breath, the vehicle won’t start. The device also requires the driver to blow again a couple more times during the drive just to make sure. If alcohol is detected, the car horn can start to sound, and the lights will flash. The collected data results are sent to the device’s manufacturer and logged for that driver.

Washington is one of the 25 states that currently require the device’s installation for convicted drunk drivers caught with .08 BAC. As reported by MADD, 1.77 million drunk drivers have been prevented from driving by the devices since 1999. More evidence supports the effectiveness of these devices. Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico have all reported a 30 percent drop in fatalities due to drunk drivers after these laws were passed. The CDC reports an approximate two-thirds reduction in repeat offenses because of interlocks. 

If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk or drugged driver, Bill Coats Law is here to help you. No one can help you fully recover the pain and suffering, and lost time or maybe even lives. But financial compensation is available to you. An experienced, skilled lawyer can help you get that. Call Bill Coats at 360-392-2833, or through this form. You can learn more about drunk driving here. 

Sources: 

MADD - Sober to Start

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