What is an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device?

An alcohol ignition interlock device (IID) is a small machine about the size of the palm of your hand and is installed into the ignition of a means. In order to start the means, a driver must blow into the device, which then calculates the amount of alcohol on the person’s breath. If the level of alcohol on a person’s breath is above a predetermined BAC level, the device will not allow the means to start, preventing the person from driving. This level is often around.02, much lower than the legal limit of.08. If, however, the driver does not have this predetermined level of alcohol in his or her system, the means will start typically.

Why would I have to use an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device is installed in a car as one punishment for being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Almost all 50 states now allow the installation of this device as a sentence for drunk drivers. This punishment is usually not applicable to first time or underage DUI offenders, but instead for repeat offenders. For example, in Rhode Island, installation of an IID in a means for up to two years may be punishment for second time or multiple offenders with a BAC above.08 but less than.1, in addition to other penalties.

How does an ignition interlock device work?

Modern devices use fuel cell sensors to measure alcohol levels. This technology is not as accurate as the infrared sensors used in breathalyzers; however, the fuel cells are cheaper and more alcohol-specific than breathalyzers. Ignition interlock devices must be calibrated regularly in order to ensure the accuracy of the sensor. The machines also record activity, which may be downloaded by law enforcement officials at regular intervals for review. The driver can be placed under additional punishments if officials detect any violations.

Most ignition interlock devices may be set so that a driver must provide breath samples at regular intervals while driving, so that drivers cannot have another person start the car for them. If the driver fails the interval retest, the means will not stop, for safety reasons. It will, however, begin to flash its lights or honk its horn to alert law enforcement of the condition of the driver.

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