According to statistics, the average drunk driver has driven while intoxicated up to 80 times before an arrest. In 2017, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), discovered that ignition interlock devices (IID) stopped 1.77 million attempts to drive while intoxicated in 2016. In 2010, New York’s Leandra’s Law went into effect, requiring any driver convicted of DUI to have an IID device installed on their vehicles. Their license also would have an IID restriction listed on it. Between 2006 and 2016, in New York alone, IIDs prevented 85,523 attempts to drive drunk. Between 2015-2016, they stopped 7,162 attempts. While IIDs do prevent drunk driving, they have unforeseen dangers, the New York Times reports.
There’s no doubt that ignition interlock devices have saved lives by preventing people from driving drunk. They have also caused a fair number of crashes.
One such crash occurred in November of 2017 when Alexis Butler was backing out of her driveway in Arlington, Texas. A speeding pickup truck driven by Blake Cowan slammed into her vehicle. Though he had two previous DUI arrests, Cowan was sober at the time of the crash. He had an IID device installed in his vehicle. He had dropped it into the floorboard of his truck and was attempting to retrieve it at the time of the accident.
Numerous accident reports and lawsuits have occurred where the devices played a role. One Pennsylvania driver blew so hard into his device that he passed out and hit a tree. A California man was performing a rolling retest when he crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on.
Although the manufacturers of the devices and the monitoring agencies advise drivers to pull over to perform a retest, that advice is not always followed.
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In 2017 alone, there were eight accidents where the devices were listed as a factor in the crash. However, this is probably inaccurate as the report utilized accident reports that were entered into state databases. Not all accidents are logged in state databases and the ability to search for causation descriptions is not available.