ManyDUI prevention groups recommend the wider use of ignition interlock devices to decrease the number of drunk drivers. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small machine that is installed in the driver's side of a vehicle. The driver must give a breath sample before starting the engine and may also be asked to provide samples while the car is running. If there is evidence of alcohol presence in the breath sample, the car will not start. Many see these devices as the future of driving and the only true way to stop DUI. California is testing a pilot program in Los Angeles and several other counties that requires all DUI offenders to install an IID.
A task force that was assembled by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) looked at 15 different studies that were done on the effectiveness of IID installation. While there was definitely a decrease in the re-arrest rate for drivers with the IID devices installed, once the devices were removed, the rates went back to their normal levels. This shows that drivers who were would normally drink and drive were deterred from doing so because the devices simply would not allow them.
This is encouraging because it shows that IIDs do, in fact, make a difference. The problem, however, is that they fail to alter behavior patterns. Once the devices are removed from offender's vehicles, they go right back to the same bad decision making. In order for this program to make any real difference, all drivers would need to use these devices all of the time. California's pilot program requires first time offenders to install an IID for 90 days after a conviction. While this may help in the very short term, according to these studies, it will not effect the driver's likelihood of a repeat offense in the long term.
Instead of physically stopping drivers from starting their vehicles when they are intoxicated, the reasons for driving drunk should be examined. In some cases, offenders may be struggling with substance abuse or depression problems. In those cases, counseling and rehabilitation are the best options. For others, driving after consuming alcohol might have seemed like the only option for them. More efforts should be made to educate the public on their options. For example, there are many programs that offer rides to drivers who are too drunk to get home. There are even affordable programs that will drive you in your own car back to your residence.