Changes to ignition interlock devices are being researched and new technologies could be coming.
The state of Arizona has some of the most stringent drunk driving laws and penalties in the United States. Drivers who are arrested on DUI charges face serious and long-lasting consequences if they are ultimately convicted. High fines, jail time, ignition interlock, and the loss of driving privileges are just some of what people in these situations can experience.
After a person is allowed to drive again, an ignition interlock device (IID) is required. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, even first-time convicted drivers will be ordered to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. These systems work by capturing breath data to determine potential intoxication on the part of a driver and then locking the vehicle's ignition if need be. Drivers are required to pay for all costs associated with the installation and maintenance of these IIDs.
How do they work?
Every time a driver gets into a vehicle with an IID installed, a breath test must be taken. The device is mounted on the dash and is roughly the size of a cell phone. If the test results show an alcohol level greater than what is pre-programmed to be legal, the vehicle's ignition is locked and the driver cannot start the car. IIDs are intended to prevent people convicted of DUI offenses from driving while under the influence again.
If a breath test is able to be successfully passed, the vehicle can be started. Even once a journey is underway, a driver can be signaled to take a retest. If the driver does not blow into the machine when signaled, alerts will sound until the vehicle is turned off. Results from every test are recorded and able to be reviewed later. Attempts to start the car with a reported BAC or failure to blow in the car after it is started during the rolling re-tests result in fails that are reported to MVD. These failures trigger automatic extensions of the ignition interlock requirement.
How might they change?
Technology advances are evident in every part of our society and ignition interlock devices are no exception. Some in Congress has come out in support of embedding IID technology directly into new cars. According to BoldRide.com, some automotive manufacturers are reported to be investigating this option. If it comes to fruition, the need to install after-market IIDs into vehicles would be negated.
In addition to IID functionality in new vehicles, Mashable.com indicates that new versions of after-market IIDs are in development. One version captures a driver's alcohol level by touch rather than by breath. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety is leading this research which may receive federal funding.
Important information for drivers
Anyone who has been charged with drunk driving in Arizona should seek help immediately. Contacting an experienced attorney is an important first step in this process.