Drivers should never drive drunk. Those who do are hazards, threatening not only their own lives, but the lives of other drivers out on the road. If you are going out for the night and know you are going to be drinking, bring along a designated driver, or arrange an alternative mode of transportation for your ride home. One possible consequence of a drunk driving conviction is the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Ignition interlock devices have been around for a surprisingly long period of time. They were first invented back in 1969 by Borg-Warner Corp. These primitive interlock devices were not attached to breathalyzers. That innovation began to appear in 1981 and became standard by the mid-1980s. By 2012 all 50 states had officially adopted the imposition of an ignition interlock device as an alternative sentencing consequence for drunk drivers. Arizona requires a minimum sentence of 6 months of ignition interlock device imposition for all DUI offenses, even those that did not involve alcohol!

Most ignition interlock devices require a potential driver to blow into a tube where their breath is then analyzed by the machine. An ethanol-specific fuel cell is used both as a source of power for the device and as a means of detection for alcohol. If a hopeful driver’s breath is determined to be free of alcohol, the device will allow the car to start. The device keeps detailed logs of all of the readings it takes which can later be pulled and accessed by law enforcement individuals. Drivers who violate the terms of their sentence may face additional sanctions. The installation and maintenance of these devices is not free and the state government is not going to pony up the cash to cover the bill. Offenders typically have to pay around $75 a month for their ignition interlock devices. In the long run, it is a cheap alternative to losing your car!