A California (CA) law signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger this month takes another step in the fight against drunk driving. The law requires all drivers convicted of drunk driving to have a device installed in their cars that will prevent them from driving under the influence of alcohol.
The device is known as the ignition interlock device (IID) or the breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BIID). When installed the device works like a breathalyzer, forcing the driver to breathe in to the device before the car’s engine will start. The ignition interlock device then measures the driver’s blood alcohol level against pre-recorded amounts, typically half the legal limit or less depending on the state. Randomly while the car is in motion the IID or BIID will require the driver to breathe in to the device again. This is done to prevent a friend from breathing for the driver. If the subsequent measurements show a high blood alcohol level the measurement is recorded and an alarm will sound until the car’s engine is shut off.
The measure signed by Schwarzenegger takes a big step towards ending drunk driving, but California is not the only state that imposes the use of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices for convicted drivers. North Carolina (NC) imposed the use of BIIDs in 2007. Under North Carolina (NC) law, anyone who is convicted of driving while impaired is permitted to drive only if their blood alcohol level is less then half the legal limit of .08 at all times. If the driver is convicted of driving while impaired again in a period of seven years, or is caught with a blood alcohol level of .16 or higher, a IID device will be installed in their vehicle.
The IID and BIIDs are an excellent example of using modern technology to put a stop to the thousands of drunken driving deaths that happen every year. The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) group is working with state officials nationwide to spread their use even further. Hopefully, these devices will help see an end to the senseless alcohol related deaths.
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