Ignition Interlock Evaluation Shows Success
The year three results of a continuing five-year study were recently published. The study, funded by the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals, focuses on the state’s sobriety court programs and their effects on drunk drivers who are repeat offenders.
The purpose of the study is to provide a report documenting the compliance of the participants, and their progress and outcomes during the time that they are in the DWI/Sobriety Court interlock pilot program.
According to Michigan’s Repeat Offender laws, you are considered a drunk driving repeat offender if you have two or more alcohol-related convictions within 7 years, or three or more alcohol-related convictions within 10 years. If you are arrested and convicted of drunk driving as a repeat offender, you may be required to use an ignition interlock device.
An ignition interlock device is a mechanism similar to a breathalyzer. It is installed on a car’s dashboard and, before starting the car, the driver is required to blow into it. The device then compares the alcohol level in the driver’s breath to preset blood alcohol levels. If the driver’s BAC exceeds that of the device, it will prevent the engine from starting.
According to the study, both alcohol and drug use among program participants is substantially lower compared to similar offenders not under interlock supervision. In addition, participants were more likely to improve their education between the start and end of their programs.
All in all, 252 participants successfully graduated from the DWI/Sobriety Court by the end of 2013, and only 29 people failed. This is only slightly higher than a 10% failure rate. The failure rate for the comparison group who did not use the interlock devices was just over 33%.
The study also found that participants have the lowest rates of recurrent criminal behavior patterns, in both the first and second years after the initial drunk driving conviction. This applies to both drunk driving offenses and other criminal offenses in general.
Research like this provides important data about potential positive outcomes for habitual drunk drivers. It also equips law enforcement, the courts and the advocacy community in their continued efforts to reduce drunk driving in Michigan.