Cameras & GPS Systems Now Used in Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs)


If you or someone you care about has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), chances are you may be familiar with an ignition interlock device (IID). These devices limit a driver's ability to start a car without first proving that he or she is not intoxicated. In many states, these devices are required following a DUI conviction. They work by requiring the driver to blow air into the device and passing what is basically a breathalyzer test before the car can be started. If the test is failed, authorities are notified, and the car will not start.


Although many states have adopted ignition interlock devices in their DUI programs, the device is not without its weaknesses. Many drivers who have been ordered to use the device have figured out ways to circumvent the test. Tactics such as having someone else blow into the device, resetting the test following a failed test result, and electronically tampering with the device have caused some states to question the effectiveness of the advertised as foolproof method of reducing drunk driving.


Because serious alcoholics are often hard to separate from their drinks, ignition interlock devices have needed to become more creative to prevent drivers from invalidating the test. Manufacturers and law enforcement agencies have begun implementing changes that make the ignition interlock device less easy to fool.


One of the newest innovations for ignition interlocks is the ability to see the driver. No more having a friend blow into the device for you, because this state of the art drinking deterrent uses photo ID to make sure the driver matches the person blowing. This simple addition prevents many of the ways people manage to continue driving while intoxicated. Some states have already begun using these type of devices, and it would not be a surprise if they become popular country wide.


Photo identification capable devices have an attached camera that takes a picture of the user while the breath sample is being given. It also puts a time stamp on the photo so that authorities will be able to verify that the photo was taken at the same time the sample was given. Tampering with the camera by covering it up will prevent the vehicle from starting just like giving a test result with over the limits amount of alcohol will. The camera poses a significant challenge for those trying to circumvent an IID.


Sometimes installing an ignition interlock device is not the only requirement from states. In some instances, convicted drivers are prohibited from driving to certain areas, or may only be allowed to drive to school or work. New designs in ignition interlocks have helped states not only reduce drunk driving, but also monitor where the drivers are going through the use of GPS (global positioning system) technology.


Ignition interlock devices are now available with GPS. With this added technology, authorities are able to see where the car is being driven and the actual location of where tests are being taken. This is especially useful in enforcing driving restrictions that occur as a result of a DUI conviction.


GPS ignition interlock devices can also be used by families that are concerned about their teens or other family member's whereabouts or driving behavior. These types of devices can be purchased by families and monitored via a home computer, laptop or even smart phone. Parents or other concerned family members can prevent drunk driving by using the breathalyzer portion of the device. They can also locate their loved one or vehicle by using the GPS portion of the device. Although it may seem invasive for some, the device can provide valuable piece of mind for families who worry.


Ignition interlock devices are valuable devices for preventing drunk driving, but they have their flaws. With new technology that includes cameras and GPS, IIDs are becoming more foolproof every day. The question remains though, how useful are they, and how big brother-like our society is becoming.



By Richard Jacobs

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