What Are The Dangers of Interlock Devices?

Woman holding beer bottle while driving

Evidence is emerging that brings into question the safety of a device meant to save lives. Similar to an on-the-go breathalyzer test, the technology of interlock devices, which has been employed throughout the U.S. as a mandated safety measure against drunk driving, has been implicated as a cause for a number of distracted driving accidents.

Ignition interlock devices have been in use for more than a decade to curb drunk driving by rendering a car inoperable unless the driver can prove that they are sober. The technology has been required by many states to limit driving access by convicted drunk drivers. Regrettably, as the system requires intermittent sobriety testing throughout the drive, drivers’ efforts to satisfy its verification requirements have led to accidents, many of which have been deadly.

System Design Flaws

The interlock system is essentially a palm-sized mechanism that drivers use to prove they are sober enough to drive. The system, which is wired into the vehicle’s steering column, takes a reading of the breath sample. If the reading shows no alcohol is present, the driver can start the ignition.

Throughout the drive, the system randomly requests additional samples. If the driver is unable to comply, the system reacts by causing the lights to flash and the horn to beep, forcing the driver to turn off the engine. To avoid such chaos, drivers often rush to satisfy the system and consequently become distracted.

Beneficial Factors

According to a spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), interlock devices have prevented more than three million would-be drunk drivers from attempting to operate a vehicle. One report concluded that alcohol-related fatal crashes were reduced by 15 percent in states that implemented mandatory use of the devices in all drunk driving cases.

Companies that produce the systems make similar claims that the possible dangers are outstripped by the good they provide. Thirty-four states mandate their use by convicted drunk drivers. Two senators are pushing for laws to require the devices to be installed in all new vehicles. Still, many believe that more can be done to ensure the systems are used safely. Manufacturers of the devices say drivers have plenty of time to pull over to perform the tests safely. However, industry leaders admit that drivers take the test while the car is in motion. There is an argument to be made about how stopping on busy or constricted roads may become its own hazard, but the systems still have room for improvement.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Collisions Due to Distracted Driving

If you were injured in an accident involving a driver who was drunk or distracted by a mandated interlock device, the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. We will fight for the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us online or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) to set up a free consultation.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.