No, an Ignition Interlock Will NOT Shut Off a Moving Car. Now Stop It.

ignition-interlock-will-not-stop-carWhere would we be without the comments section under online news articles? Where would we go for random insults? Where would we engage in conversations that start with sports or local traffic and end with Hitler?

And most important, where would we go to get the most complete, comprehensive and up-to-date supply of misinformation available?

Articles about ignition interlocks are a good example. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, is a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Twenty-six states now mandate these car breathalyzer devices for all DUI offenses. Other states are considering the bill, and once in a while a letter or editorial appears in the paper supporting ignition interlocks for all offenders – or for everyone.

Then come the comments. And one of the most frequent bits of information offered is this:

“These devices require to you blow into them randomly while driving, and if you fail the breath test, they’ll shut off your car.”

Bzzt! Sorry, wrong answer, but thanks for playing. An ignition interlock will never shut off a vehicle that is driving, simply because that would be a serious road hazard – and the idea of an ignition interlock is to remove a hazard from the road, not create one.

The Truth About Rolling Re-Tests

Yes, if you have an ignition interlock, you will be required to blow in it while driving at regular intervals. This is to prevent offenders from starting to drink after turning the ignition key. Once you’re used to the device, it is easy to do and does is not distracting and dangerous.

If you fail, your vehicle will not stop. Instead, your lights will flash and your horn will sound. As a result, you’ll need to pull over and shut off the engine. This is the safest way to take an impaired driver off the road quickly.

Ignition interlocks have been proven to lower the number of alcohol-related road deaths in communities that use them. License suspensions don’t work: more than half of all drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive. The ignition interlock is the only measure that actively prevents a drunk driver from doing harm.

So the next time an article appears suggesting that ignition interlocks are a good idea, read the research, do some thinking, and join the legions of committed road safety advocates who support ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. That’s more constructive than spreading urban legends about non-existent devices that stop cars in their tracks.