Ignition interlock devices continue to save lives in Illinois

Illinois has strict ignition interlock device laws in place; however, there is slight room for improvement which may help to save more lives.

Motorists in Illinois and throughout the country continue to drink and drive, despite strict legal penalties and warnings about the increased risk of car accidents, deaths and injuries. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported that 10,076 people lost their lives and an additional 290,000 people were seriously injured in drunk driving car accidents in 2013. That same year, Illinois lost 322 people to drunk drivers, which accounted for 32.5 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the state. Although Illinois was one of the first states in the nation to require all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices, some believe that the laws could be strengthened in order to save more lives.

Current IID legislation

Offenders who are arrested and convicted of a DUI in Illinois have the option of having an interlock device installed in their vehicle or having their driver's license suspended. Ignition interlock devices allow DUI offenders to continue driving, which is essential for people who require transportation to get to work or school. However, drunk drivers are still able to opt out of the interlock device program. While these drivers will lose their driving privileges by having their license revoked, this doesn't necessarily mean that they will refrain from driving. Research conducted by MADD reported that up to 75 percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to operate a vehicle even when they have a suspended driver's license. By taking away drunk drivers' ability to choose between an IID and driver's license revocation, the number of drunk driving car accidents and fatalities in Illinois could decline even further.

Are IIDs effective?

Would changing this small loophole in the interlock device program really keep more drunk drivers off of the roads? The answer is yes. Interlock devices have shown to reduce the drunk driving recidivism rate by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even after the device is removed from the vehicle, drunk drivers are 39 percent less likely to reoffend than those who have never had the devices installed.

Interlock devices make it impossible for people to drink and drive, as they will not allow the car to start if the driver's blood alcohol content level measures 0.025 percent or above. Once the car starts, the driver is prompted to submit periodic breath samples to ensure they remain sober behind the wheel.

What to do if you are involved in a drunk driving accident

If you have been involved in a tragic car accident involving a drunk driver, you may not know what to do or where to turn. You may have serious injuries, emotional trauma and property damage as a result of the other driver's negligence. A Chicago attorney may help you explore all of your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your trauma.