Ignition Interlocks or Other Punishments?

Ignition interlock devices are slowly becoming more of common of a sentence in courtrooms around the country, possibly because of the technology that makes it nearly impossible to circumvent these devices, and possibly because more jurisdictions are considering them to be a fair and just penalty. Many states are following the footsteps of New Mexico, the first state to make ignition interlock systems mandatory for first time DUI offenders.

How do ignition interlock devices compare with other punishments? SCRAM devices are one type of penalty that can be given to a DUI offender. SCRAM bracelets are placed on a DUI offender 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they monitor any and all alcohol intake. However, these alcohol bracelets are normally saved for repeat offenders who must not drink at all following a DUI conviction. So what about first time offenders? Ignition interlock systems are a happy medium because like SCRAM bracelets, they do prevent recidivism, but they also allow a first time offender to drive and continue with normal life without the risk of another DUI.

But what about repeat offenders? Should judges really be handing down harsher sentences to these DUI offenders? Ignition interlock devices are not a walk in the park. These systems require the individual to blow into the device numerous times during a car trip. Plus, they record every single violation. Each and every time a DUI offender registers over the legal limit, the system will send a message to the offender’s probation officer or judge. Technology has made it so these devices cannot be tampered with. If they are, that violation will be recorded as well. This is why statistics show recidivism rates have dropped so low for those offenders who have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Ignition interlock devices are a safe and trustworthy way to make sure DUI offenders do not drink and drive. The chances that a DUI offender who drinks and gets behind the wheel will be caught by a police officer are low. Thousands of DUI offenders are on the streets every day. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for law enforcement to find all of them. But ignition interlock devices do the job for police officers. They are DUI checkpoints that remain in a driver’s vehicle for an extended period of time. This is why ignition interlock systems are more effective than loading the streets with more and more police officers and DUI checkpoints.

Ignition interlock systems bring recidivism rates way down, but once the device is removed from the vehicle, many offenders will get back behind the wheel and drive drunk. This is why it is so important for ignition interlock systems to go hand and hand with alcohol rehabilitation or another kind of treatment program. Ignition interlock systems will stop offenders, but they cannot solve a clinical alcohol problem. Treatment along with an alcohol ignition interlock system can be a sentencing option for judges. In fact, it’s one way to get to the root of the problem and to protect the public at the same time.

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