There’s No Such Thing as a Disabled Ignition Interlock

Every once in a while a news story comes up about a DUI offender who is arrested and found to have a disabled ignition interlock. Most recently, a man in Wellsville, Pennsylvania was arrested twice in a 48-hour period for drunk driving, having disconnected the ignition interlock that had been mandated by the courts for a previous DUI conviction. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

cutting-wire-on-ignition-interlockIn this case, the man was stopped because there was a lighting issue with his truck. But he would have been apprehended anyway. Why? Because there’s no such thing as a disabled ignition interlock.

It is possible, of course, to snip wires, or rig up some kind of bypass. But what the offender didn’t know, or didn’t care about, was that every test, every pass and fail and aborted test, as well as total mileage driven is recorded. That data is downloaded at the regular monitoring appointment.

This leaves two possible outcomes for the man who hot-wired his car breathalyzer:

  1. He comes in to have the data downloaded. The data reveal the tampering, and that the truck was driven many miles without a test – which is impossible. The data is forwarded to law enforcement for action.
  2. He skips his regular monitoring appointment. In that case, law enforcement is notified immediately as he is no longer in compliance with court orders.

Police LightsOf course, the only reason to try to defeat an ignition interlock is to drive while drinking. That is a sure way to either get arrested or to cause a crash.

The fact that this and other stories about so-called disabled ignition interlocks appear in the news is proof that tampering doesn’t work. And it’s also proof that ignition interlocks do. The devices have their own built-in enforcement. Wherever they are employed, alcohol-related crash numbers go down.

The upshot – a technology solution that saves lives and keeps roads safe is one you don’t want to tamper with.