The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a guideline document that recommends what steps states can take to improve their ignition interlock programs. Those actions include requiring ignition interlocks for all individuals convicted of, or having their driving privileges suspended for, alcohol-impaired driving.
This policy recommendation includes first-time DWI offenders, as a condition of license reinstatement.
In the document, NHTSA also advises state legislators to eliminate loopholes that let some DWI offenders avoid participation in the ignition interlock program and to establish a minimum length of time that DWI offenders must use the device.
In addition, to comply with minimum federal standards, each state must require all repeat offenders to either use an ignition interlock for at least one year or to lose their license for one year. Failure to do so risks the loss of federal highway funds.
Alcohol ignition interlock devices prevent intoxicated drivers from operating a motor vehicle if their breath alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds a set point – typically .020. Before a vehicle will start, the driver must blow into the device and the breath sample must register a score within the acceptable range. To see a device demonstration, you can watch the Drager Interlock video below.
The NHTSA document, titled “Model Guideline for State Ignition Interlock Programs,” also advises states to make training about ignition interlock devices available to a range of employees, including DMV staff, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, probation officers and drug treatment specialists. Device manufacturers should be required to train users to ensure they understand how the device works, the program violations and sanctions, reporting and service requirements, and who to contact for further information, NHTSA said.
Additional recommendations include:
- Ensuring residents in rural areas have access to the devices
- Establishing criteria to determine a DWI offender’s ability to pay fees associated with device use
- Creating self-sustaining strategies to pay for the ignition interlock program
- Establishing procedures for monitoring offenders
- Defining program violations and reporting requirements
- Establishing technical and certification requirements for devices that qualify for use in the program
- Creating a vendor oversight plan.
Click here to see a list of current state ignition interlock laws.
On Jan. 1, a new Colorado law took effect that regulates ignition interlock-restricted licenses and the consequences of refusing a sobriety test. Click here for a Dec. 17 video report from ABC Channel 7 News in Denver.