Ignition Interlock Device: Effective tool or dangerous device?

CREATED May 15, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - Ignition Interlock Devices are meant to make Wisconsin roads safer, but some claim the devices are posing more dangers.

In Wisconsin, IIDs must be installed in every vehicle owned by a repeat drunk driver.  First time offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15 are also required to use them.

"The device prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver blows a BAC above .02," John Vose, of MADD Wisconsin said.  "There's been a significant reduction in drunk driving fatalities and accidents (due to IIDs)."

But not everyone thinks the devices are safe.

"They're scary," said David Woods, of Door County.  "These things are dangerous even though I'm not drunk when I'm driving."

Woods, a repeat drunk driver, has an IID equipped in his vehicle. His issue: the Rolling Retests.  The device, at any time, will demand the driver to re-submit a breathalyzer test.

"It only gives you 20 seconds of warning before you have to comply with the device," Woods explained.  "If you don't (comply), your horn starts blaring and the lights start flashing."

One Rolling Retest nearly caused Woods to drive off the road, he claimed.

"It sends the driver into a panic," Woods said.

Vose isn't convinced.

"That is an extreme reaction," Vose said.  "If the driver isn't able to pull to the side of the road, the car continues to run.  It doesn't stop."

Woods understands why the IIDs are used, but believes the devices aren't preventing drunk driving.

"If someone is going to drive drunk, they don't care if they have an IID or not," he said.