Ignition Interlock Devices Prevent Impaired Driving with Child Passengers

As a parent or caregiver, we can agree that your main focus is to ensure the health and safety of your kids. We can also agree that accomplishing this requires the help of various resources and tools. Without them, you can run the risk of putting your child in harm’s way.

Unfortunately, parents who drink and then drive can put their children in a high-risk situation, especially if they have surpassed a specific threshold of alcohol. The risks include either being arrested for impaired driving or causing a drunk driving crash. Yes, it may be unintentional, but it’s dangerous, nonetheless. 

In fact, here are a few statistics to quantify the impact:

  1. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately every 52 minutes, 1 drunk driving crash is fatal.
  2. Roughly 17% of these crashes negatively affect children up to 14 years old, based on a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  3. All of these traffic accidents were preventable.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that parents and guardians consider how they can stop their children from becoming a part of these statistics.

One proactive measure that has proven to decrease intoxicated driving is the voluntary installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). Many state laws recommend them to keep impaired parents off the road and protect child passengers. Why? An IID prevents a driver with a specific threshold of alcohol in their system from starting the vehicle. 

What is an IID?

An IID is a device installed in a vehicle, usually after the driver is convicted of a DUI. The driver has to breathe into the device and prove there’s no alcohol in their body before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it prevents the driver from starting the ignition. They can retest after a specified period of time. 

Additionally, the device randomly requires the driver to give breath samples during the drive. If they have alcohol on their breath, the device will sound an alarm to encourage them to pull over and stop. However, it can’t turn off the vehicle or apply the brakes.

The IID records the outcomes of all the driver’s breath tests, and in the case of a DUI conviction, the driver has to follow a reporting schedule so the DMV or a state agency receives the results. The driver may have to provide a monthly or quarterly report of their test results or inform the court of a violation within a specific time. Besides that, several states require a driver to service the IID every 30 or 60 days, and the servicer may transmit the results to an agency then.

One more thing to note, IIDs are hard to tamper with. Most have cameras, which means the driver can’t have someone else blow into the mouthpiece before they drive. Someone else can blow into the device if they’ll be driving the vehicle, though.

When the Law Requires an IID

Of course, you can install an IID voluntarily; however, there may be instances where a court will require you to use this device.

For example, in Texas, where a DUI is referred to as a DWI, drivers have to use an IID as a condition of a bond or probation for all second and additional offenses. It’s also a condition of probation for any first-time DWI offenders under 21 years old, or an individual with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher. 

Now, if the IID is a condition of a person’s bail bond, they’ll usually have to keep the device on their vehicle until they resolve their DWI case. If it’s a condition of their probation, they’ll have to use the IID for a specific period of supervision. 

Texas also requires an IID for a DWI involving a child passenger under 15 years old. The offense is a state jail felony and involves a driver’s license suspension. Once the suspension is over, a driver has to install an IID to regain their driving privileges. 

It’s evident how lawmakers rely on IIDs In this one state law example but there’s more.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 50 states have an ignition interlock law, and according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 34 states require IIDs for all drunk driving offenses.

IIDs Keep Impaired Parents Off the Road

All of these safety features and legal procedures make an ignition interlock device a great precautionary tool for parents. 

First and foremost, they help you remain mindful of your driving ability, whether you’ve had a small amount to drink or not. 

Secondly, they prevent a DUI conviction.

And most importantly, they are effective tools you can use to keep your children safe, healthy, and happy.

By Ned Barnett, Houston DWI Attorney