There are people who believe in the Loch Ness Monster, that Elvis is living in a trailer along the Yukon River, and that foreign people speak English behind our backs. There are also people who, when an ignition interlock is proposed as a solution for convicted drunk drivers, claim that the devices are easy to defeat. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
It never fails. A news article will list the benefits and successes of an ignition interlock program, and then the comments start, all from self-appointed experts who have never seen an ignition interlock, much less defeated one. And the solutions are always dead easy.
“Just disconnect the device when you get home.”
“Run a wire to bypass it.”
It’s as if ignition interlock manufacturers hadn’t thought of the possibility that people would try to get around it.
In fact, the belief that beating an ignition interlock is a walk in the park is one of those myths that will not die. Here are the reasons why it’s wrong:
When the interlock was first devised, it was obvious that people would try to use hair dryers or balloons to blow clean air into it. That is why devices require you to produce a hum tone, or to inhale for a few seconds, in order to prove that there’s a human being doing the blowing. So leave your football inflator in your locker, unless it knows how to hum.
As for having a friend blow into it, there’s a problem once you get on the road: the device will give you re-tests at regular intervals. You’ll blow a fail.
Every event that occurs with an interlock is recorded, and downloaded at regular intervals to be checked by monitoring authorities. Failed tests are noted, as well as the total number of starts (because an unusually low number might mean a person is driving a different vehicle). In addition, the device will record an attempt to disable it. Most provinces impose penalties for tampering with the device.
Ignition interlock installers need to be trained in automotive electrical systems in order to do their work. Cars’ electronics are sophisticated these days, and you need to know what you’re doing to install – or remove – an interlock. If you don’t, chances are very good you’ll fry your vehicle’s electrical system. The whole idea was to drive, right?
The Truth: Ignition Interlocks Do the Job
Provinces that have introduced strong ignition interlock legislation – say, mandatory ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses – record a dramatic fall in drunk driving injuries and deaths. That’s because the devices work to prevent drivers from operating their vehicles when impaired.
Instead of believing the myths, be a myth-buster: spread the word that, because so many drivers are prevented from taking to the highways after drinking, Canada’s roads are safer than they’ve ever been.