In North Carolina and across the U.S., the number of ignition interlock devices installed into vehicles has almost tripled over the past decade. IIDs are in-car breathalyzers that prevent drunk drivers from starting their vehicles, and their success has been well-attested. The CDC says they lower repeat DUI offenses by 70% when installed. The 34 states with an IID law experience 15% fewer alcohol-related accident fatalities than the other 16.
An investigation instigated by the New York Times, however, has found that IIDs have been a factor in more than their fair share of car accidents. Drivers report being distracted by the IID when it requests a “rolling retest.” This retest is crucial because it prevents drunk drivers from having a sober friend blow into the breathalyzer and then driving off.
These retests come at regular intervals, though the timing will differ from state to state. Drivers have several minutes in which to take the test, which is sufficient time for people to pull over if they feel it’s unsafe to take the test while driving. Drivers are not required to look at the device. All they have to do is pick the handset up and blow into it. As there is a push to make IIDs mandatory for all vehicles by 2024, addressing this issue is important.
Those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents and find out that the driver was distracted by an IID may have good grounds for a claim because distracted driving is a form of negligence. Victims will likely face strong opposition, though, since the other side could make use of the risks involved in IIDs for his or her defense. Negotiating for a settlement alone is not advisable, so victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case and assist with every step.