24/7 Alcohol Monitoring Can’t Do What Ignition Interlocks Can

interlocks beat alcohol monitoringDrunk driving is such a persistent and dangerous problem that authorities are willing to try anything to deal with it. One regularly hears cries for stiffer punishments, especially in states that appear to go easy on impaired driving.

Ignition interlock laws are gaining ground, thanks to studies and reports that show their effectiveness in preventing drunk driving. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Currently 29 states mandate the devices for all drunk driving offenders, including first offenders. More states are debating similar laws.

Another method used to keep convicted drunk drivers from repeating their offense is 24/7 alcohol monitoring. While it has its uses, 24/7 cannot protect the public the way ignition interlocks do.

2/47 Alcohol Monitoring – Immediate Consequences

A 24/7 alcohol monitoring program requires offenders to appear at a designated facility daily – usually twice a day – and have their breath tested for alcohol. Anyone failing the test suffers immediate repercussions, which could include a few days imprisonment.

Advocates of 24/7 like the way it addresses an offender’s alcohol problem, rather than just the driving. The idea is that a smaller but immediate consequence will be more effective than the threat of greater punishment down the line of the offender is caught with another DUI.

Ignition Interlock – Public Protection

While there is value to a system that helps supervise people attempting to recover from alcohol abuse and dependency problems, 24/7 alcohol monitoring cannot substitute for ignition interlocks as an anti-drunk driving measure, for one reason: it cannot prevent drunk driving.

In any recovery program, lapses are common. A monitoring program can record the lapse, but there will be no consequences until the offender who has been drinking comes in for the next breath test. With an ignition interlock, the same offender will not be able to start his or her vehicle. No one is put in danger.

The Verdict: Interlocks are the Way to Go

Every month we read about more states that are proposing to strengthen their ignition interlock laws. Legislators are aware that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), law enforcement agencies and other road safety advocacy organizations have been sticking by ignition interlocks as the preferred solution.

There’s nothing wrong with using alcohol monitoring as a way to help supervise people with alcohol problems, but when the problem involves a car or truck, we can’t afford to take chances. There needs to be an ignition interlock between the driver and the innocent people on our roads and streets.