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Are Ignition Interlock Devices Safe?

Posted by Robert Berglund | May 13, 2022

All repeat DUI offenders in California, as well as some first time offenders, must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in any vehicle they own or operate before they can get their driver's license re-issued following a DUI conviction.  How long the IID must remain installed depends on the particular driving record of the person, e.g. how many prior DUI convictions that they have.  The purpose of the IID is well intentioned: to prevent a driver who has consumed alcohol from operating a motor vehicle.  Prior to starting the vehicle the driver must blow into the IID.  If the device measures alcohol on the driver's breath, not only will the vehicle not start but the IID installer will be sent an alert.  The company will then notify the DMV and, if court ordered, the court as well.  The DMV will immediately suspend the person's driver's license upon receipt of the notification.  The Court may find the individual in violation of probation, which could lead to jail time and other adverse consequences.  

However, there are also potential safety issues with the IID.  Many devices require the driver to also blow into the device periodically while driving.  The IID will give the driver an "alert" which requires them to blow into the device within a certain amount of time, even if the vehicle is in motion.  Distractions from the alerts and blowing into the devices while driving have caused crashes.  A recent news report in the state of Virginia looked into this issue.  The reporter interviewed Shelia Dunn with the National Motorist Association, who has IID safety concerns.  She was reported as stating, “It can be deadly. A woman in Texas was killed in 2017 because of it.  She was pulling out of her driveway and a man was trying to blow into his device and he ran into her.”  

The safety concerns regarding IID's are valid.  Hopefully, technology will become better and safer IID's will be developed.  Perhaps a design that does not require a driver to blow while the vehicle is in motion could alleviate this problem.  Berglund Law Office, P.C. will post updates on our blog of any additional reports or media coverage regarding IID safety issues.  

If you are currently having problems associated with your IID, please CONTACT our office to schedule a consultation with DUI lawyer Robert D. Berglund.  Our office specializes in representing individuals facing DUI charges, as well as those facing problems with probation and compliance following a DUI conviction.

About the Author

Robert Berglund

Attorney Robert D. Berglund is dedicated to handling any and all traffic violations, including traffic infraction tickets, as well as misdemeanor criminal traffic violations, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving.


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