In the past decade, the number of ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles in New Jersey and across the U.S. has gone up from 133,000 to 350,000. Some 34 states require DUI offenders to install these in their vehicles, and as a result, these states see 15% fewer alcohol-related crash deaths than other states. The CDC says IIDs reduce repeat DUI offenses by 70%.
IIDs are basically breathalyzers that drivers must blow into before starting their vehicle. At regular intervals, drivers must take “rolling retests” to show that they are not drinking behind the wheel. If drivers do not take these retests, the device will set off an alert, which can consist of a honking of the horn, a flashing light or something else that does not interfere with the car’s operation.
These retests, though, have proven to be a source of distraction for many. Technically, of course, drivers do not need to look at the device; they simply pick up the handset and blow into it. Yet many do look. Another concern is that IIDs may not give enough time for drivers to take the retest, though companies that sell the devices say that drivers are given several minutes. This is sufficient time for drivers to pull over safely to the side of the road.
If a car accident occurs because a driver was distracted by the IID, then the victim may be able to pursue a personal injury case. The insurance company may try to use the IID as part of its defense, and it may be aggressive in denying the claim, so victims may benefit from obtaining legal representation. A lawyer may hire third-party investigators to gather proof of the driver’s negligence. He or she may then speak on the victim’s behalf for a settlement.