Drunk drivers kill 28 people a day in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol cost nearly $60 billion each year. Putting in an interlock device can reduce incidents of drinking and driving by 70%. Many drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence are legally required to have an interlock device installed in their car. These are basically car breathalyzers that prevent a vehicle from starting unless the offender blows into the machine and it registers that they have not been drinking.
There are a lot of myths out there about interlock devices. Here is some truth to counteract those myths.
- The interlock device costs way too much money. The average car breathalyzer cost is between $70 and $150 to put the device in the car. The companies will charge between $60 and $80 each month to monitor and calibrate the device. If someone really cannot afford it, some states have indigent funds to help people. In other places, the company that provides in the device may waive the fees for people who really cannot afford them. Typically, though, the offended pays for it because they benefit from having it.
- The interlock device will dangerously stop your car while you are driving in traffic or on the highway. This is impossible. The device itself is not linked to the engine in any way, It is attached to the starter. It prevents the car from starting. Once the car is moving, there is nothing the device can do to stop it from running. If the driver fails a test after that, the car lights may flash or the horn will go off. This is to alert law enforcement and draw attention to the individual If the system requires a retest, the person is given a few minutes to pull over and complete the test.
- The car battery gets drained by these devices. If your car has an electrical system that is functioning normally, the interlock device should have no impact on your battery. The device uses only a small amount of power (one quarter of an amp while inactive and one half of an amp during the administration of a test. The only way the battery will be adversely affected is if the car is not started for about ten days. If the car with the unit is experiencing some problems with the electrical system, this may be different.
- Certain mouthwashes will cause a false positive. If you insist on using a mouthwash with alcohol, some have as much as 30% in them, you should wait 15 minutes before driving and rinse out your mouth with water before using the device.
- These devices can fail for no reason. If people fail without drinking, most commonly, the problem is that they blew into the device wrong. If there are repeated problems with the device, there may be a technical problem that is causing it. You should go into the company where you got the device and have it checked. Like every other kind of technology, sometimes they break or stop working the way they should.
- If you smoke a cigarette, the device will fail and your car will not start. If you take a few deep breaths before you blow into the interlock device, you should not have any issues with it. The ignition interlock device is designed to detect alcohol and should not be impacted by the presence of cigarette smoke.
- If you eat anything spicy, the interlock device will fail. Unfortunately, there are interlock devices that are impacted by spicy food. What happens is the spices mix with your stomach acid and the reaction between the two causes the release of methane. The methane can be interpreted as alcohol by some devices. You can take an antacid and drink some water and that should solve that problem. This can happen but it is rare.
- Going to the gas station will cause the unit to fail. No. When you put gas in your car, it will not cause the interlock device to fail. It should have no impact on the interlock device whatsoever.
Most interlock ignition devices is that they are a pain to use but they make our road safe from drunk drivers.