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Interlock System: Everything You Need to Know

01 December, 2023

A driver opening a bottle of alcohol inside a car

Drink driving continues to be a major problem worldwide. It causes many accidents and fatalities each year. Thus, governments and organisations have been searching for effective solutions. One option is the interlock system. Driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can require the offender to undergo an interlock program. They need to install an alcohol interlock device. There are two kinds to choose from. Nevertheless, both prompts drivers to blow into a breathalyser to measure their blood alcohol content.

Drink driving offences are highly dangerous. It puts the life of the driver at risk. In addition, it endangers the lives of other people on the road. Fortunately, penalties like the interlock condition can effectively reduce the number of cases. Alcohol interlock program participants simply need to comply with its requirements. The following sections will delve into the details of the system, the types that individuals can choose from, and how the system works.

What is an Interlock System?

An interlock system is a device installed in a vehicle. It requires the driver to pass a breath alcohol test before they can operate a motor vehicle. Authorities mandate the system for individuals who have been convicted of DUI offences. The interlock condition helps to prevent further drink driving cases. It ensures the driver does not engage in dangerous driving.

Alcohol interlock program participants need to avail of interlock service providers. They can install and maintain the breathalyser. The device is connected to the ignition system of the vehicle. It measures the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of the driver. If the result is above the predetermined limit, the engine will not start. Some systems may also require random breath samples while driving.

The installation of an alcohol interlock device serves as a proactive measure. It prevents repeat offences and protects public safety. The interlock condition is designed to be both a deterrent and a rehabilitation tool. It helps to ensure that individuals are held accountable for their actions. Moreover, they should take responsible steps to prevent further drink driving incidents.

The Main Benefits

  • Discourages drink driving – Interlock conditions provide a strong deterrent against driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Reduces recidivism – Alcohol interlock programs are effective in decreasing DUI cases and other relevant offences.
  • Promotes accountability – The system holds previous drink drivers accountable for their actions by maintaining a good blood alcohol level. This encourages them to make responsible choices.
  • Allows for legal driving – Individuals under alcohol interlock programs can still drive to work, school, and other important commitments. The system enables them to do their duties while being safe.
  • Protects the community – The system protects the public by preventing drink driving and ensuring safer roads for everyone.

Keys and alcohol on a table while a person is holding a glass

Types of Interlock Systems

There are two main types of interlock systems. They are the ignition interlock devices (IIDs) and continuous alcohol monitoring systems (CAMS). Both systems aim to prevent individuals from driving under the influence. In addition, they promote safer roads for all. Adhering to the interlock condition also allows offenders to maintain their driving privileges.

IIDs are common for drivers with DUI convictions. This system requires them to blow into a breathalyser before they can drive. If the device detects alcohol above a pre-set or legal limit, the vehicle will not start. Moreover, IIDs record data, including failed attempts and any violations while driving. The interlock costs from service centres range from $75 to $150 for installation. Also, an additional monthly fee is possible. Furthermore, the offender must pay calibration fees every 60-90 days.

Meanwhile, repeat offenders or those with higher blood alcohol content levels often utilise CAMS. This system continuously measures alcohol levels in the body. Additionally, it sends this data wirelessly to a monitoring centre. The offender must wear a transdermal patch during the car ride. The interlock cost typically ranges from $100 to $200 for installation.

Which One to Use?

When considering which system to use, considering the specific needs of the individual is important. The traditional system requires the driver to provide a breath specimen before starting the vehicle. On the other hand, the continuous system monitors the breath of the driver throughout the entire trip.

The traditional system may be suitable for those with a one-time offence. Conversely, the continuous system may be more appropriate for individuals with multiple offences or a history of substance abuse. It is essential to carefully evaluate the situation. In addition, consult experts to determine the most effective one.

Police officers checking up on drivers

How Do Interlock Systems Work?

When a driver with a history of alcohol-related offences attempts to start the vehicle, the interlock system requires them to blow into the mouthpiece of a breath analyser. A sample of breath showing a BAC level above the programmed limit will prevent the motor vehicle from starting. As a result, individuals can avoid driving while intoxicated. This helps to keep the roads safer for everyone.

Upon successful breathalyser testing, the system may require additional tests. It would be at random intervals while the vehicle is in operation. This ensures that the driver remains sober throughout their trip. If the driver fails a random breathalyser test while driving, the system may activate the lights and horn of the vehicle. This provides a signal to law enforcement that the driver is drink driving.

Systems for interlock programs also record and store data on breath tests. Police officers regularly review the information. In some cases, individuals may need to provide the data as evidence of their compliance with alcohol-related driving restrictions. Overall, the systems are effective in preventing individuals with alcohol offences from endangering themselves and others on the road.

Legal Requirements for Operating

The legal requirements for operating systems for interlock programs vary by state. Generally, individuals must install the device at their own expense. Moreover, they need to keep it on their vehicle for a specified period of time. This often ranges from six months to several years.

In addition, the system typically requires regular monitoring and calibration to ensure accuracy. It is also important for individuals with interlock devices to comply with any reporting requirements. This includes regularly providing breath samples or submitting to scheduled maintenance and inspections. Failure to meet these legal obligations can result in additional penalties or the revocation of driving privileges.

Conclusion

An alcohol interlock system prevents a vehicle from starting if the operator has been drinking alcohol. The system works by having the driver blow into a breathalyser. If there is any amount of alcohol in the sample of breath, then the engine will not start. It is often part of the sentence of an offender. There are two main types, which are IIDs and CAMS. The former is more traditional, while the latter prompts a continuous period of breath tests.

Alcohol interlock providers offer affordable interlock devices. The installation price is usually around $75-200, depending on the type. However, there may be extra costs for monthly services. The period of participation in the program would be based on the severity of the DUI offence and court order. The system is vital in preventing bodily harm because of road accidents. In addition, it leads to safer roads for everyone in the community.

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