Ignition Interlock: Rethinking Texas DWI Penalties, Part 1

We have discussed the pros and cons of ignition interlock devices at length in the past. With a bill pending in the Texas legislature that would require ignition interlock sentences for all DWI convictions in the state, this approach to drunk driving is likely to remain in the public eye for the foreseeable future.

Ignition interlock devices use the same breath test technology that police officers use in Texas roadside stops. Drivers must blow into the device to measure blood alcohol content and receive a passing result before starting their vehicle. Different models use various techniques to ensure that the person who blows into the device is actually the driver. For example, one popular model includes a camera that snaps a photo of the driver.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlock devices are an effective means to cut repeat DWI violations. Its statistics indicate that the devices can prevent as many as two out of three repeat DWIs.

This is an impressive number-but does that justify the big imposition on Texas drivers? A Texas DWI conviction comes with enough penalties already. Is it reasonable to require an individual to install a permanent device in his or her vehicle? Check back later this week for more on this topic, including statistics from ignition interlock companies.

Source: KXAN.com, "Reports show breathalyzers in cars work," Angie Beavin, Mar. 26, 2013 

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