Interlock Device History

An ignition interlock device is a small mechanism that is installed on the dashboard of a vehicle operated by someone who has been convicted of a DUI. This contraption requires the operator of the vehicle to blow into it in order to have his or her breath tested for alcohol. The vehicle will not turn on if the individual blows a BAC over a specified limit or fails to blow into the contraption. Some systems are set up to sound an alarm or alert a probation officer if a high BAC reading is recorded. For devices that do not turn on the vehicle due to a high BAC, the user can expect a short lockout period for a few minutes. However, if he or she continues to provide a sample with a high BAC, the lockout period may be extended.

Emergency of the Device

The ignition interlock device debuted in the early 1970s. However, it took time before these devices came part of the arsenal of penalties that individuals convicted of DUI were subjected to. It was not until the mid-1980s that the device became common place for convicted DUI offenders.

Current Use of Ignition Interlock Devices

Since its emergence, 35 states have introduced bills to require the installation of such devices upon certain convictions. States prefer the use of such devices in order to curtail drunk driving. Many states have reported the number of re-arrests for DUI go down significantly after the installation of this device.

However, each state has individual requirements for when a DUI offender is required to install this device. In most states, this is not required upon a single conviction. The requirement to install an ignition interlock device is usually reserved for when a person has two or more convictions for DUI and the court takes notice that the individual may be a threat to the public.

However, other states only impose this requirement if the individual has been convicted of certain types of DUI offenses. For example, this may be required when the individual had a BAC of or above 0.15 percent. The device may be required when there are other aggravating factors, such as if the criminal defendant caused an accident that resulted in injury or death or if a child was in the vehicle at the time of arrest.

Tamper Resistant Characteristics

Due to attempts from convicted offenders to disable the devices, the current manufactured ignition interlock devices contain tamper-resistant characteristics. If someone attempts to tamper with the device, a violation is recorded in the device’s internal memory. Additionally, the device can tell when the vehicle has been started without the use of a breath sample, such as is the case with hot-wiring the vehicle. This information is also stored in the device’s internal memory. Currently manufactured devices also detect when fake breath samples are provided, such as by using air in a balloon. Ignition interlock devices also come equipped with a backup battery so that the data from the log and the memory stays intact even if the primary battery is disconnected.