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NTSB urges expandaed use of ignition interlocks in DUI cases

Posted on in DUI

The use of ignition interlock devices in drunk driving cases has garnered attention across the country in recent years. Four counties in California are currently experimenting in the use of the devices in cases involving allegations of driving under the influence. The device is essentially a breath test machine that is installed in the car.

A driver must blow into the Breathalyzer before attempted to start the vehicle. If the device detects a specified level of alcohol, the car simply will not start. In most states, the driver must also periodically blow into the device while driving, and information from that breath test is recorded for download at specified times while the device is required after a DUI conviction.

Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board unanimously recommended that all 50 states pass laws to require the use of ignition interlock devices in all DUI cases.

The federal agency says that the use of the devices will reduce wrong-way car accidents across the country. In addition to the recommendation that all states use the devices in all DUI cases, including first-time drunk driving offenses, the NTSB urged another federal agency to speed up its research on infrared technology used to detect the presence of alcohol in drivers.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Board is reportedly working with automobile manufacturers in developing infrared technology to detect alcohol in a driver's system. Some work-related drug testing programs use infrared technology, and federal officials hope that the idea can be incorporated into the ignition system of all cars.

Federal officials would like to see the infrared alcohol testing technology incorporated into an ignition button that will not allow any car to be started if the infrared detectors measure alcohol exceeding a specified level. Currently, ignition interlocks generally use a threshold of between 0.02 percent to 0.04 percent blood alcohol concentration to disable the car's ignition, depending on individual laws across the county. Seventeen states currently require ignition interlocks in all DUI cases.

Source: 13 ABC, "NTSB: Use ignition locks for all drunken drivers," Associated Press, Dec. 12, 2012

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