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Photo of Igntion Inter- lock Device provided by Ignition Interlock Systems of Iown, Inc.

makes it illegal for the driver to operate a vehicle with less BAC than the existing 0.8 alcohol laws. These restrictions are best placed on the front of the driver’s license in red lettering—immediately informing law enforcers of the re- striction. Drivers that ask for waivers due to lack of owning a car or financial hardship should still have the restriction placed upon their license.

It is imperative to apply a set of standards to monitor drunk drivers using the device and to ensure interven- tion is applied promptly and within 30 days of the down- load. Research suggests applying sanctions to those with violations, and drivers that do not comply with the pro- gram requirements should have their license suspend- ed. Stanton believes in additional consequences, noting that fines, jail or other sanctions should be applied. “The persons tenure on the interlock program should be ex- tended rather than ended,” said Stanton.

suCCessful statistiCs

Interlock studies have proven the value of interlock de- vices, when monitored correctly. Only in the randomized trials has the effectiveness of the interlock program been studied. Effectiveness of the device is based upon its im- pact on those who receive it, while the effectiveness of the program is based upon its impact on those assigned or el- igible—not just those who receive it. Jurisdictions should not be under the impression that because interlocks are installed public safety is automatically enhanced. The interlock can save lives, but only when supported by an effective interlock program.

Over the past eight years such programs have proven very complex—mired with differing opinions, political motivation and confusion from all persons involved (DMV administrators, DMV staff, vendors, drivers, and even legis-

Figure 1

Category No Interlock statues or Administrative Regulations

Number of States 8

Administrative Regulation authorizing Interlock in an administrative setting.


Statues authorizing Interlock in court only


Statues or administrative regulations authorizing Interlock on both court and administrative setting


20MOVE | Fall 2008

lators).To help lessen the differing opinions, a series of ran- domized trial studies of the ignition interlock was done by the Centers for Alcohol Substance Abuse Research Group atWESTAT, over a 12 year period (1995-2007).

In the first trial, two groups were randomly provided with alcohol deterrence. The control group used traditional intervention (i.e. Drunk Driver Monitoring Programs, self help groups, license restrictions specifically prohibiting any BAC while driving, etc.). The interlock group used the igni- tion interlock restriction for 12 months. The results showed ignition interlock programs can reduce an offender’s alco- hol traffic violation within the first year by 65 percent.

A second study was conducted that did not validate the previous one, therefore it remained unknown if the ignition interlock could reduce alcohol related viola- tions. It was either a coincidence the first study was suc- cessful, or a new variable was introduced into the inter- lock group in the second.

In comparing the two programs, researchers discov- ered that staff in the first study proactively and aggressively monitored and sanctioned drivers with data violations. In the second stud , staffs were more lenient-relying on their personal judgment that it was the device itself that was im- portant (a common belief at the time) and not monitoring for program compliance. Researchers hypothesized that the second evaluation did not replicate the results of the first program because of the different program approaches.

To resolve this issue researchers conducted a third study. In this comparison stud , the control group continued to follow the practices of the staff from the second study. The treatment group established close monitoring protocols spe- cific and progressive in nature when violations occurred: k WARNINg LETTERS were sent for 1st violation. k THE DRIVER had to have mid-month service moni-

toring for the 2nd violation. k RESTRICTION TIME was extended for the 3rd violation. k A PERSONAL interview with a staff physician for the

4th violation. k SuSPENSION OF the license for the 5th violation.

Congratulatory letters were sent to drivers without any violations. All sanctioning occurred within 30 days of re- ceipt of the data logger report. The primary data indicated the 436 drivers in the control group had 9,382 data logger violations, in comparison to the treatment study group with 440 drivers that had 6,728 data logger violations (see charts). This indicates a 39 percent reduction in violations between the two groups. The progressive sanctioning of driving within 30 days of the receipt of the data logger helped reduce the number of violations, indicating close monitoring is vital to a successful interlock program.

There are important differences in the data between the two groups.The control group manually reviewed each driver’s data logger print out, while the treatment group had each driver’s data logger transferred electronically to a standard report. This standardization of reporting auto-

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