Ignition Interlock Program Cuts Drunk Driving in Half Says New Study

Ignition Interlock Devices, sometimes called IIDs or BAIID (breath alcohol ignition interlock device), are often viewed as something of a pain in the rear for convicted drunk drivers. The device, which is installed in a person’s car after they have been convicted of certain drunk driving offenses, requires that the driver provide a breath sample before they are able to start the car, and then again at regular intervals while driving.  Inconvenient or not, a new Michigan study says that use of ignition interlock devices cuts drunk driving in half in our state.


The study was conducted by the Michigan Supreme Court as a pilot program and looked at five years of data in order to develop the results. Five separate Michigan courts were involved in the study, namely district courts in Kent, Kalamazoo, Oakland, Grand Traverse and Marquette counties. The program started in 2011, and culminated in some very positive results for Michigan’s convicted drunk drivers.


According to the study, use of the IID cuts repeat offenses among convicted drunk drivers in half. Statistics show that the number of people with DUI charges who will reoffend after their conviction is ordinarily 8 percent.  With an ignition interlock device, the number is reduced to only 4 percent. District Judge Patrick Bowler oversees the sobriety court in Grand Rapids in Kent County, MI.  He says that because of the nature of addiction, some people will fail. But for many, the program offers them a chance at redemption. And even failure doesn’t mean the end of the line.


One year ago, a state-wide press conference was held to celebrate the ongoing success of the program as a whole, including its successful participants. The celebration which was held in Lansing, began with live feed from the Hall of Justice during which time the fourth annual sobriety court report was released. This included the results of the first four years of the ignition interlock device pilot study, which were already promising.


Before the program began, Kalamazoo County District Judge Vincent C. Westra said that he doubted the IIDs would make any difference. But the study wasn’t even complete before he was making a public statement rescinding his prior doubts and praising the changes he had seen in people’s lives.


In Westra’s words, the use of interlock devices allowed program participants to “get to their meetings, to get to their treatment … to have the availability of better employment.” All in all, he said, it gave them hope and allowed them a chance to improve their lives. Clearly that does make sense. Despite the inconvenience of the device and the license restrictions, it is certainly better than the alternative – no Michigan driver’s license and no vehicle at all.


As experienced Michigan drunk driving defense attorneys, we understand the importance of getting a second chance. We’re all about having the opportunity to get your life back after a mistake. We love being able to prove that you are so much more than the sum of your failures. If you or a loved one have been arrested for drunk driving, or super drunk driving anywhere in the lower half of Michigan, contact us immediately. We are here to help you.


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