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Ignition Interlock Device Decreases Alcohol-Related Crash Deaths

Paige Tears-Gladstone8 months ago

According to Medscape, a study has found that states which require convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices in their cars displayed a 15% drop in alcohol-related crash deaths when compared to other states.

The Interlock Device’s Impact

An ignition interlock utilizes a built-in breath analyzer used to determine if a would-be driver’s blood alcohol limit surpasses the programmed limit, usually set at 0.02 grams per deciliter. In the event that a driver’s blood alcohol limit exceeds the limit, the interlock device will prevent the car from starting.

These devices cost approximately $150 to purchase and install, and in states with interlock laws the individual is responsible for the expense to acquire it.

A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed a notable improvement in the rate of alcohol-related crash deaths amongst the states requiring this device for those who garner a drunk-driving conviction.

According to lead author Elinore J. Kaufman, a significant change was observed as they discovered there was a 15% decrease in deaths.

While these drivers may circumvent the device by using an alternative vehicle, the devices have also been shown to reduce the probability of another drunk-driving occurrence by more than half. Naturally, non-alcohol related crash deaths showed no difference between interlock and non-interlock states.

Only 23 States Have Interlock Legislation

While each state has some manner of ignition interlock legislation, they aren’t mandatory. This study used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 1999 to 2013, including the data from both the 18 states with mandatory laws and the 32 states without the interlock requirements.

Between 2004 and 2013 more than 900 lives were saved through the installation of interlock devices, and Kaufman claims if each state had had these laws 2,600 people would have been saved.

Today, only 23 states have made these laws compulsory for all of their drunk-driving convictions.  

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