Are Ignition Interlocks a Dangerous Distraction?

Madeleine Jones
July 13, 2017

Ignition interlock devices (IID) are designed to increase roadway safety by preventing intoxicated individuals from operating motor vehicles, but studies reveal that these mechanisms may actually raise the risk of car accidents. In fact, drivers who use IIDs are approximately 84 percent more likely to become involved in a crash than those who do not have the devices installed. If you or a family member was seriously injured in car accident, or you lost a loved one, call a car accident lawyer at Cogburn Law Offices today for a free case consultation.

Understanding Ignition Interlock Devices in Nevada

In Nevada, when a driver is convicted of DUI with a BAC of 0.18 percent or higher, the courts are required to order the installation and monitoring of an ignition interlock device. The IID, which is attached to the wiring of a motor vehicle, prevents the car from starting until the driver successfully passes a breath test. After a few minutes of driving, the device signals the driver that he or she must submit a “rolling retest.” These subsequent breath tests are periodically required as long as the person continues to actively drive. When a rolling retest is failed or refused, the vehicle’s horn may begin to honk, headlights may flash, or a small siren might go off, causing significant distractions and raising the risk for a car accident.

While submitting an initial breath sample to start a motor vehicle with an IID is not dangerous in any way because the car is not running, submitting a rolling retest can result in distracted driving that could result in an accident. According to AAA Exchange, anything that takes a driver’s mind, eyes or hands away from the act of operating a vehicle is a risky driving distraction. When a retest is required, a driver has a few minutes to respond. Although he or she can typically wait until the vehicle is pulled over or traffic conditions are less demanding to submit a breath sample, taking the test while actively driving is often more convenient. Unfortunately, it is also more dangerous.

To perform a rolling retest, typically the driver must visually locate the handheld device and check the display for any messages if applicable. He or she must then physically handle the device in order to submit a breath test. Once the test is completed, the driver must pay attention to any readings or messages before returning the device to its original location. In essence, performing a rolling retest requires the driver’s mental attention, as well as his or her visual and physical interaction- all driving distractions that are similar to using a cell phone.

The use of an ignition interlock device puts drivers at risk as it requires use at various times throughout a journey. Using this devices requires a driver to hold the device properly and push appropriate buttons while maintaining control over the motor vehicle, pulling the concentration away from the road. If you’ve been involved in a car accident while using and IID or because of another party’s use of an IID, contact a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas to help understand your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.