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What is an ignition interlock device?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | DUI |

Ignition interlock devices are tools that often accompany DUI convictions. These devices have gained popularity thanks to their ability to reduce drunk driving incidents, but they also help motorists retain their driving privileges.

Understanding how IIDs work is key to remaining compliant with the penalty. Here are a few facts to keep in mind.

How do ignition interlock devices work?

An IID is a breath-testing device installed in a vehicle’s ignition system. Upon submitting a breath sample, the device measures the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If the driver’s BAC exceeds a predetermined limit, the IID prevents the engine from starting.

IIDs work through a simple yet efficient process:

  • Breath sample – Before starting the vehicle, the driver must provide a breath sample by blowing into the device
  • BAC measurement – The device analyzes the sample to determine the driver’s BAC
  • Engine lock or unlock – The vehicle’s engine will only unlock if the BAC is below the preset limit
  • Periodic re-tests – While driving, IIDs may require the driver to provide periodic breath samples to establish continued sobriety

IIDs also record data, which authorities can review to ensure compliance with DUI penalties.

Possible drawbacks of IIDs

While IIDs can reduce DUIs, they do have some disadvantages. The cost of installing and maintaining these devices can be a burden for individuals already facing fines and other penalties. There are also concerns about the potential for false positives, where a sober driver might fail the breath test due to mouthwash or certain foods.

IIDs also fail to address the root causes of alcohol abuse and addiction, potentially leading some individuals to seek alternative methods of transportation or even engage in illegal activities to avoid the device. Then, there is the social stigma associated with having an IID in one’s vehicle, which can affect a person personally and professionally.

According to Responsibility.org, 5,269 drunk driving arrests occurred in Mississippi in 2019. Mandatory installation of an IID is just one possible penalty for DUI, one that offers benefits as well as drawbacks.