Most drivers are familiar with the breathalyzer test police officers may administer if they suspect drunk driving in Georgia. Some states have gone a step further by forcing drivers to install these devices in their vehicles. Drivers must then blow into them before being able to start their vehicles. These ignition interlock devices can prevent a car from starting if the driver tests above the predetermined level.
ABC News states that D.C. and 32 states require drivers to install these devices in their vehicles even for first-time offenses. In Calfornia, Georgia and a handful of other states, only repeat offenders may need to install the device. Research shows that they do have some impact. In the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016, 2.3 million drivers who tried to start their cars with a BAC over the legal threshold got thwarted by the devices.
Two studies confirm this impact. One found that when repeat DUI offenders were forced to install the devices, there was a corresponding 7% decline in road fatalities caused by drunk drivers. When laws forced all offenders to get the device installed, the decline more than doubled to 15%. Still, these are averages and it is not clear what other factors may be at play.
According to 11Alive, first-time offenders in Georgia may have the option of installing the device to reduce some of the penalties they would otherwise face. For instance, they may be able to choose the device over serving a year-long suspension of their driver’s license.
This may sound simple enough, but the cost of these devices and a guilty DUI charge add up. It can get to as high as $1,600 in just four months. This accounts for $800 fines, $100 to install the device and the $2.60 daily maintenance fee in 2017. The article did not provide updated costs.