Ignition interlock devices have started to catch on across the country. Following a joint recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board and AAA, most states and municipalities either have laws in place to encourage the use of the potentially life-saving devices, or are in the process of passing such laws. However, the technology is starting to appear to have reached a saturation point. In many areas, about half of those eligible for the devices are taking advantage of them and getting an interlock installed by a certified auto technician at the auto shop. Unfortunately, this means about half of those eligible are not opting to get the ignition interlock installed.

Of course, most of the laws (including the ones in Colorado that govern ignition interlocks) don’t mandate that the devices be installed. However, if a driver convicted of a DUI violation opts to forego the interlock system, they are not allowed to drive legally for the entire period in which their license is suspended (typically 6-12 months). The concern is that while some of these individuals certainly are legitimately opting to walk, bike or use public transit, there are probably many more who are continuing to drive their vehicle illegally and without any device to ensure that they are not impaired before they get behind the wheel.

Although they risk having their license suspended for longer, fines and even jail time by doing this, it is almost certain that there are a sizable amount of convicted drivers who have chosen this route anyway. And, even more unfortunately, if they do end up getting in another accident because of an alcohol impairment, it could cost someone their life. This means that efforts to increase the number of individuals who are getting the detection devices installed by an auto technician at the auto shop are being ramped up in some places.

Some states and cities have considered subsidizing the cost of the interlock devices, but that type of proposal is unlikely to be very popular with law-abiding taxpayers. It is certainly understandable that they would be reticent to have their taxes go to pay for the irresponsibility of a drunken driver. But, that means that lawmakers will have to come up with other tactics to increase the number of individuals taking advantage of the laws which allow them to drive with a restricted license as long as they have an ignition interlock device installed.

Either way, the system is at least working to a significant extent, since auto technicians and auto shops report significant business from drivers deciding to have the devices installed. It is encouraging that about half of convicted drivers are opting to have an ignition interlock installed, even if many people would like to see that number increase.