Thirty four states, including Texas, require DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, though the details vary. IIDs are breath test machines that prevent cars from starting when drivers failt, and their safety benefits are well-known. Those 34 states with an IID law experience 15% fewer alcohol-related crash fatalities than the other states do.
However, there is one concern that needs to be addressed, especially when considering how some lawmakers want to mandate IID technology on all new vehicles by 2024. A New York Times investigation into dozens of car crashes found that drivers can be easily distracted by IIDs.
IIDs do not simply test a driver’s breath once. If that were so, drunk drivers could fool the device by having a sober friend breathe into it. IIDs require what are called “rolling retests” at certain intervals while one is driving. All one does is pick up the handset and breathe into it. One does not need to look down, so technically, there is little possibility of distraction. Furthermore, companies selling IIDs emphasize that the devices give sufficient time for drivers to take the retest. It can be several minutes in some cases. During that time, drivers who are afraid of becoming distracted can pull over to the side of the road.
Distracted driving, regardless of the cause, can be considered a form of negligence, and it can lead to collisions that leave occupants of other vehicles with serious injuries that require lengthy periods of expensive medical care. Victims might want to have the help of an attorney when seeking compensation for the economic and non-economic losses that they have incurred.