Georgia, like dozens of other states, employs an ignition interlock program. In general, the devices have proven successful in cutting down on drunken driving.
Ignition interlocks, however, also pose risks to motorists. A New York Times review linked the devices to dozens of crashes across the country.
What are ignition interlocks?
Interlocks are like miniature breath testing machines that connect to the vehicle. They prevent the engine from starting if the person behind the wheel is not sober. In Georgia, courts can mandate the devices for some drivers after a second DUI conviction.
The devices also report failed alcohol tests to the interlock provider. The results can lead to legal problems for a driver, including probation revocation.
Interlocks are a financial burden for drivers, too, because they must pay for them. Installation and monthly monitoring fees can cost $1,000 or more a year.
How are they dangerous?
The devices call for random retests while a motorist is operating a vehicle. To take the retest, a driver takes a hand off the wheel to hold the device while blowing hard into a mouthpiece. In other words, interlocks distract drivers who should be focusing on the road.
If a driver fails to take the retest, the vehicle flashes its headlights and honks its horn. The Times found drivers taking the retest who:
- Killed someone after dropping and reaching down for the device
- Killed someone after crossing a dividing line on a busy highway
- Almost lost a hand when hitting a telephone pole
- Blacked out and crashed while blowing into the mouthpiece
A DUI conviction can result in an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. It also can cost you money, your license and jail time. Knowing how to defend yourself is vital to your future.
How can you protect yourself?
The rush to penalize drunken drivers is a powerful movement. The motives are noble, yet that does not always make them right.
A DUI conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. The penalty, though, should not threaten your life.