Is An Ignition Interlock a Possibility in All Vehicles in the Future?

If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gets its way, every single American convicted of drunk driving will be required to use an ignition interlock device. They are also considering the impact upon traffic safety if every legal driver nationwide is required to use the technology, regardless of whether or not they have an offense on their record. So, the answer to your question, “Is an ignition interlock a possibility in all vehicles in the future?” is probably a resounding, “Yes.”

Currently about half of the country’s states have a mandate in place with regard to drunk driving offenders. By having such a device installed, every person convicted of a drunk driving offense is required to submit to a mandatory breathalyzer test every time they get behind the wheel of their own car. For many states this mandate includes even first time offenders.

The proponents of mandating use of the device for all drunk driving offenders have extensive data supporting their cause. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National Interlock Briefing Sheet reports that alcohol-related automobile fatalities reduce alcohol related driving offenses by about sixty-seven percent. MADD Ignition Interlock Report 2016 claims that almost half a million attempts to drive while under the influence of alcohol have been thwarted by ignition interlocks during 2015 just within the state of Minnesota alone.

MADD has been fervently fighting for mandatory ignition interlocks for drunk driving offenders since 2006. Their goal is, of course, to eliminate all drunk driving occurrences. The campaign originally targeted offenders with multiple DUI and DWI convictions. MADD sees the ignition interlock as just one component of an approach that couples punishment with preventative measures designed to stop another drunk driving event.

These positive results have not gone unnoticed. New York’s U.S. Representative, Kathleen Rice, has ventured a prediction. She is of the opinion that every automobile manufactured in the U.S. will come equipped with an ignition interlock within the next decade. Even non-offenders would have to submit to a breathalyzer before they could drive.

If Representative Rice’s dream comes true she believes that almost 60,000 lives will potentially be saved. Her press release of July 14, 2015 reflects data  that estimates an approximate eighty-five percent reduction in non-fatal injuries received by the result of drunk driving accidents. She concludes that all of this tragedy aversion may save the country well over $300 billion dollars in less than two decades.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is also on board with the idea of mandatory ignition interlock devices according to their article “What Works: Strategies to Reduce of Prevent Drunk Driving“. It is their primary recommendation for reducing deaths related to motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol and encourage their use for even first time offenders.

Car manufacturers and the NHTSA are also funding research into new technologies that could replace the ignition interlock device. Rather than blow through a tube to have breath analyzed, sensors integrated into a car’s design would take air samples and analyze trace alcohol emissions exuded through the skin as well as analyze eye movements and driving performance. This is one of the solutions proposed by Ron Medford, Senior Associate Administrator, NHTSA Vehicle Safety in his report entitled “Future Vehicle-Based Alcohol Detection Systems

By all appearances it seems that the U.S. government and special interest organizations are committed to all drivers being subjected to alcohol analysis before taking to the road. Is it possible that a federal mandate could pass requiring all motor vehicles be equipped with an ignition interlock? Yes, it is. Is it also possible that the ignition interlock could have the breathalyzer and tube replaced with a set of sensors and scanner? It will come as no surprise when the first test model is unveiled.

For more information on how a mandated installation of an ignition interlock may affect you, please contact us. We can help you understand your rights and the financial impacts of any decision you might make if you are involved in a case regarding mandatory installation of an ignition interlock.