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Are ignition interlock devices effective?

If you are convicted of a first-time drunk driving offense in Florida, and your blood alcohol content is 0.15 or higher, you will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in your car. IIDs are designed to make it impossible to operate your vehicle if you have been drinking. Recently, there have been calls to mandate the use of IIDs for all people convicted of driving while intoxicated. This push naturally raises the question of the value of the devices in reducing impaired driving and its often disastrous effects.

According to a recent report composed of information from several national sources, IIDs have reduced reoffender rates for driving while intoxicated. One study showed an overall rearrest decrease of 22 percent for those who were ordered to use IIDs during the three years of the study. Additionally, the recidivism rate was reduced by 66 percent for those who used IIDs.

Lives have also been saved. The numbers of fatalities from drunk driving accidents dropped as much as 50 percent in states such as Arizona. Nationally, 1.77 million attempts to drive while intoxicated have been thwarted by the devices. The report also says this number underscores the serious problem of people continuing to drive after being convicted of driving while intoxicated. Even with suspended licenses, up to 75 percent of those drivers will get behind the wheel, anyway, including 17,000 in Florida in 2012.

IIDs have been shown to work better than any other anti drunk-driving methods, MADD says. Here in Florida, drunk driving was prevented by IIDs 662,208 times since the state’s IID law went into effect in October of 2008. Nearly 50,000 of those attempts registered at or above the criminal BAC level of 0.08.

Source: Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, “Mothers Against Drunk Driving Ignition Interlock Report,” accessed 06/02/2016