Ignition-Interlock Industry Updates Device to Keep DWI Offenders from Starting Their Cars

For years, judges across the nation have mandated the installment of ignition-interlock systems in the cars of thousands of repeat DWI offenders.  To date, these interlock systems show a reduction in repeat DWI offenses by 40 to 95 percent.  The idea behind this system is to force a breathalyzer test on repeat DWI offenders each time they try to turn their ignition key.  If the tests has results higher than the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, then the car will not start. 

While this system does work for those offenders who take their repeat DWI offenses seriously, there are others that have been finding ways around this ignition-interlock system.  The most commonly practiced way of faking the test results is having a friend blow into the tube that tests for the driver’s BAC level.  Many times this occurs because the passenger may be sober, but the driver with the interlock system may not want someone else driving their car, so the passenger blows below the level, the car starts, and the drunk driver is on the road again. 

Smart Start, Inc., one of the industry leaders in ignition-interlock systems, has updated their old version of the system in order to alleviate the margin for error created by the lack of control over who takes the breath test.  The company has added a camera that will be mounted on the driver’s side windshield about halfway up the dashboard.  The new system, appropriately named SSI 20/20, is programmed to take a picture of the driver at the precise moment the test is being taken.  The picture will then be stored in interlock unit’s logger with a date and time postage.  When the driver brings their new SSI 20/20 in to be checked and updated at the end of each 30-day period, the photographs in the logger will be compared to ensure that the breath tests were not fraudulent. The hopes of Texas Police Departments state-wide are that when Smart Start, Inc.’s new version of the ignition-interlock device becomes available this spring, the rates of repeat DWI offenders will decline even further.  Certainly, the prospect of fewer fatalities resulting from alcohol-related car accidents is something that Smart Start, Inc. and Texas Police Departments both anticipate. 

Clearly, this new device will not protect our roadways from first-time DWI offenders, but since nearly one-third of DWI offenders are ticketed more than once, this new technology will certainly make an impact nation-wide. 

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