Do Ignition Interlock Systems Reduce Repeat DUIs?

Nationally the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate four million drunk drivers hit the roads 112 million times in 2010. While that number is still high, the total number of impaired drivers on the roads has been on the decline over the past few years.

Advocates against impaired driving seek to further reduce the number of repeat DUI. Current lobbying efforts for tougher penalties include mandatory jail time, longer license revocation periods and impounding and selling drunk drivers' vehicles. However, the idea at the forefront of the campaigns to cut down on repeat offenses is requiring the use of an ignition interlock device in all vehicles of every driver convicted of a DUI.

Illinois Ignition Interlock Program

Similar to a Breathalyzer machine, the ignition interlock device requires the driver to blow into a machine that determines the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). If the machine records a measurable amount of alcohol, the car will not start. An impaired motorist thus cannot drive anywhere, because the car will not start.

In Illinois, alcohol ignition interlock devices are required under certain circumstances as a condition for receiving a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP). If a repeat DUI offender has two of more DUI convictions, the ignition interlock will be required prior to receiving a RDP. The Illinois Secretary of State administers the current Illinois breath alcohol ignition interlock devise program (BAIID).

The BAIID is installed in a vehicle. For those with two or three DUI convictions, a devise must be installed on all vehicles for which they are a registered owner. To have full driving privileges restored there are administrative Informal and Formal Hearing proceedings through the Office of the Secretary of State.

CDC Recommendation

Data from New Mexico and Arizona has credited ignition interlock devices with reducing fatalities caused by drunk driving. The CDC is now recommending the installation of ignition interlock systems for all convicted drunken driving offenders after finding the devices also reduced repeat offenses by nearly 70 percent.

Only 14 states currently require every driver convicted of impaired driving to use ignition interlocks. While Illinois does not yet require all drivers convicted of a DUI to install the devises, lobbyists have focused their efforts on states, such as Illinois, to encourage them to participate.

Penalties for DUI may become tougher as officials across the nation and Illinois look for more ways to crack down on impaired driving. Seeking the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney is even more necessary for determining next steps after a first or repeat DUI charge.