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Interlock devices may prevent DUI but are also distracting

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2020 | Car Accidents

Thirty-four states, including Florida, require ignition interlock devices to be installed in the cars of DUI offenders. Over the past decade, the number of IIDs installed has gone from 133,000 to 350,000. These devices are simply breath tests connected to a car’s ignition, and they keep a car from starting if the driver turns out to be drunk. They have prevented thousands of attempts made by drunk drivers to start their cars.

This has translated to a reduction of about 70% in repeat DUI offenses according to the CDC. States with the IID requirement see 15% fewer alcohol-related crash deaths than other states, yet there is one small problem.

What’s not so well-known is that IIDs require a “rolling retest” at certain intervals while the car is in motion. It gives drivers several minutes to retake the breath test, but if drivers fail to take it, the device sets off an alert, ranging from a honking of the horn to a flashing of the lights. Taking the breath test while driving is oftentimes a necessity, but this can constitute a distraction.

Companies that sell IIDs say that in those few minutes given to drivers, they should pull over to the side of the road to take the test. There is also no need to look at the device. There is some question, then, as to whether or not IIDs are inherently dangerous.

In many cases of car accidents caused by drivers using an IID, it is the distracted or impaired driver who is at fault. Those who are injured at the hands of a negligent driver can file a claim against that driver’s auto insurance company, but they may want a lawyer to assist. The lawyer might bring in investigators to show that drivers could have pulled over for a rolling retest.