Understanding Illinois’ mandatory interlock device program

Illinois has enacted legislation making it mandatory for convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

People who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking endanger the lives of millions of motorists on Illinois roadways each year. In 2012, 321 people were killed by drunk drivers in Illinois alone, accounting for 34 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Due to the high drunk driving fatality rate, Illinois enacted legislation in 2009 making it mandatory for all convicted DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Since that time, the DUI fatality rate has dropped by 22 percent. Illinois is not the only state seeing dramatic differences from enforcing mandatory interlock device laws, but states across the country have benefitted from these lifesaving devices.

Understanding ignition interlock devices

According to MADD, between 50 and 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers who have had their driver's licenses suspended continue to drive on public roadways. Ignition interlock devices make it impossible for DUI offenders to operate their vehicle while intoxicated.

A small breath test device is installed directly into the ignition system of the offender's vehicle, according to the Century Council. Before the car will start, the offender must submit a breath sample, which will then be analyzed for alcohol content. If the driver's blood alcohol content is below the preset level the car will start. The driver will be alerted to submit subsequent breath samples while they are operating the vehicle to ensure their sobriety.

Interlock device success

Research performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that interlock devices reduce the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent, as reported by MADD. The mandatory interlock device program is enforced in 22 states across the country, and many have seen extremely positive results from the program. Although interlock devices help to keep drunk drivers off of Illinois streets, some drunk drivers may be tempted to reoffend once they are able to remove their ignition interlock devices.

According to The State Journal-Register, a woman may spend up to 28 years in prison if she is found guilty of two counts of aggravated DUI, which resulted in the deaths of a 16-year-old student and her 35-year-old passenger. The woman was charged with drunk driving in 2012 and had received a year of court supervision. Just two years later, her decision to reoffend claimed the lives of two innocent people.

Contact an attorney

Drunk driving accidents can have devastating results. Not only do they have the potential to cause serious injuries, such as broken bones, spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries, but they can claim the lives of innocent people as well. A knowledgeable attorney can help people who have been involved in a drunk driving car accident discover their legal rights and options.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury, wrongful death