What's the benefit of an ignition interlock device?

Ignition interlock devices are costly and intrusive, but they are an effective way to work around a license suspension and get back on the road after a DUI arrest in Georgia.

The device itself is simple: Installed in the driver's compartment of your car, a driver must blow into the machine. If the device senses alcohol on your breath, the car's ignition won't engage. It also requires breath tests periodically while the car is engaged - if it senses alcohol, the car won't stop immediately but you won't be able to start it again once you've stopped.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving claimed in 2017 that ignition interlock devices have prevented 2.3 million drunk driving attempts in the U.S.

A costly device

An ignition interlock device can only be installed and maintained by pre-approved vendors. A list can be found on the Georgia Department of Driver Services site.

Prices vary, but generally an interlock ignition device costs about $100 to install and about $2.60 per day to maintain, plus a monthly downloading fee. Costs can rise between $500 and $1,000 by the time probation for your first-time DUI arrest is over.

You have a choice - for a time

For your first DUI conviction, you can choose to use an ignition interlock device in lieu of having your license suspended. Future DUI convictions don't give you that freedom. An ignition interlock device is mandatory after a second DUI conviction for those with a restricted license after the mandatory 120-day license suspension. For a third DUI conviction and more, your license will be suspended for five years although you may receive a restricted license after two years of suspension.

When you use an ignition interlock device, your vendor adjusts the machine each month and downloads a Non-Compliance Report to the Department of Driver Services that reports any violation including failing a test, failing to report for monitoring, or removing or tampering with the device. You will have an opportunity to explain the problem. Acceptable excuses include medical necessity, fire or collision.

When you drive while drunk you endanger everyone else on the road. An interlock ignition device allows you to use your vehicle after you've been convicted of DWI. It's expensive and inconvenient, but it's better than not having access to a vehicle at all.

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