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Do interlock devices prevent dwi? -

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Do interlock devices prevent dwi?

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Are IIDs Really Effective at Preventing DWIs?

When a motorist is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, one specific penalty that must be faced is the required use of an ignition interlock device. Such devices are designed with the intention of preventing offenders from repeating their crime. An ignition interlock device is also commonly referred to as an IID or breath alcohol ignition interlock device. These devices are installed in the automobiles of motorists convicted of DWIs, and its design requires the motorist to breathe into a mouthpiece so that the person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels can be read and monitored. If the IID detects the presence of alcohol over a pre-established limit, then it will prevent the automobile from being started. Since the use of IIDs became widespread more than 20 years ago, these devices have become one of the most effective methods of preventing intoxicated driving.

Groups that advocate against drunk driving, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, believe that any motorist within the United States, who is convicted of a DWI, should have an IID installed in their automobile as a requirement of having their driver’s license and driving privileges reinstated. Currently, each state in the country maintains its own laws regarding the use of IIDs, and these laws range from required use for offenders with high BAC levels only to mandatory use for all DWI offenders. Most commonly, mandatory use is required for repeat DWI offenders only.

While there is a considerable amount of emphasis placed upon why IIDs should be used, there does not currently exist much reliable data explaining if ignition interlock devices are truly effective at preventing motorists with BAC levels over the legal limit from operating their vehicles. In 2014, the NHTSA released a report describing IIDs as needing four distinct elements in order to make them truly effective:

§  The device must have a sensor for breath alcohol that enables the automobile to start only when an acceptable breath sample has been offered.

§  A secure outer casing that prevents the unit from being tampered with.

§  An electronic system that that accurately records the samples collected in order to monitor how many times and when an offender attempts to operate their vehicle while intoxicated.

§  A pretesting system that requires the motorist to provide further samples every 10-15 minutes after the automobile’s engine has been started.

Within the state of New Hampshire, IID systems are designed so that any person with a blood alcohol content of .02% or higher cannot engage or operate a motor vehicle. Current research indicates that both repeat and first time offense motorists who utilize an ignition interlock device maintain a much lower recidivism rate than DWI offenders who do not use them at all. However, a problem arises in the fact that these devices do relatively little to alter an offender’s actual driving habits. As the NHTSA has stated in their report:

“Once ignition interlocks are removed from a vehicle, however, recidivism rates of ignition interlock users increase and resemble the rates for offenders for whom interlocks were not required.”

In and of itself, this suggests that a motorist who uses an ignition interlock device will refrain from starting and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated only because the IID does not allow them to. After the device has been removed, their oft dangerous driving habits will continue without change. Consequently, the use of IID devices only has a temporary effective in reducing offenders’ recidivism rates. Moreover, while IID systems are designed to record how frequently a motorist fails the alcohol breath test within the device, the majority of states do not issue an imposed penalty, which means that a motorist who attempts repeatedly to drive while intoxicated with an IID installed, is still legally allowed to have the device removed from their automobile once their sentence has been completed.

An ignition interlock device offers an ideal method of enabling DWI offenders to continue to drive an automobile while ensuring that their earlier offenses will not be repeated; however, overall, these devices do not work to alter intoxicated motorists’ driving habits. Although anti-drinking and driving advocacy groups like MADD want each state to establish the mandatory use of IIDs, there exists no mention of how long a DWI offender should be required to use the application. Within New Hampshire, where it is required for a repeat DWI offender to have an IID installed for a minimum of two years, this length of time might be sufficient enough to get the motorist out of the habit of driving while intoxicated; however, no studies have been conducted to explore the existing relationship between IIDs and recidivism rates once the devices have been removed.

While ignition interlock devices may not possess the desired long term effects that are required to prevent DWI instances entirely, they still offer an ideal option for convicted offenders. In most states, an IID can be installed in one’s automobile in lieu of having to serve a longer length of driver’s license suspension. If you would like to learn more about IIDs and how they are used in the state of New Hampshire, for more information on the penalties associated with a DWI conviction, or if you have been arrested for a DWI, please contact our law offices.

With decades of combined experience, our New Hampshire DWI attorneys are familiar with all aspects of NH DWI law. We can provide answers to your questions, thoroughly scrutinize your case, and recommend an appropriate course of action. We can be reached through our website, via email, or by telephone, and your initial consultation is 100% free.



Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee a future outcome. Results include cases in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Attorney Dan Hynes is admitted to practice law only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This website may be considered advertising. Contacting us does not create an attorney/client relationship and the information on this site is not legal advice and may be inaccurate or not applicable to your case. Each case is different.

Mailing Address: Dan Hynes PO BOX 598 Merrimack, NH 03054