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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recently released a review of ignition interlocks: Alcohol Ignition Interlocks Are Effective While Installed; Less Is Known About How to Increase Installation Rates.


  • The report concluded that, when installed, alcohol ignition interlocks effectively reduce the rate of re-arrest for DWI.
  • Once the devices are removed, DWI arrest rates return to pre-interlock rates.
  • Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that only 15-20% of offenders arrested for DWI actually install ignition interlocks.

Incentives for States that Mandate Ignition Interlock for All Offenders

MAP-21 created a new grant program that rewards states that implement laws requiring ignition interlocks for all individuals convicted of alcohol-impaired driving. All 50 states have enacted legislation requiring or permitting the use of ignition interlocks, but only Arizona, Connecticut, New Mexico, and Washington have enacted laws requiring the devices for all offenders (and eliminated exemptions for employer-owned vehicles and medical reasons). Several states lack political support to require ignition interlock for first-time offenders or to eliminate exemptions.

Reasons for Low Installation Rates

According to the GAO report, several factors contribute to low ignition interlock installation rates, including low enforcement and monitoring to ensure offender compliance and costly fees and penalties that DWI offenders have to pay before they are eligible for interlock-restricted driving privileges.

In 2014 or 2015, NHTSA intends to publish a study that provides guidance on which interlock program characteristics may improve installation rates.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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