Illinois Ignition Interlock Device Law: Effective Deterrent or Overkill?

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In mid-2008, Illinois lawmakers announced a new state law designed to deter drunk driving and decrease DUI-related accidents. The DUI law in question requires all first-time DUI offenders to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in their cars.

The Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP) replaced the judicial driving permit, which allowed convicted drivers to use their cars to get to work, or for other necessary trips. Now, the bottom line is: If you need to drive following a DUI conviction, then you must rent the interlock device, which costs at least $100 to install and costs between $60 and $80 a month. The Illinois Secretary of State office collects a $30 monthly fee for monitoring the program.

Is It Worth It?

For all this money, is anyone actually safer because of the ignition interlock mandate?

It is not exactly clear, and critics have pointed out that those who are determined to drink and drive will find a way to do so. They also claim that the ignition interlock requirement may propel people who cannot afford the high installation and rental fees to drive with a suspended license, facilitating another dangerous situation.

Others have argued that the ignition interlock devices are faulty. Illinois DUI lawyers report more than a few stories from individuals who have been stranded in the driveway after using mouthwash while getting ready for work.

The Numbers Tell the Story

Then there are the raw numbers.

In Cook County, there were actually more fatal car accidents in 2009 than in 2008. In the city of Chicago, the number of fatal car accidents decreased by just nine.

These are hardly the results state officials were looking for when they passed the law. Still, lawmakers defend their decision to mandate interlock devices and maintain that, given enough time, the program will deter drunk driving.

But how much time — and how many dollars? It is no secret that the program has turned into a substantial payday for interlock ignition device manufacturers and the state. Over 6,000 individuals have had the device installed, totaling around $4 million in fees. This does not count additional fees and penalties involved in DUI arrests and convictions.

After looking at the numbers, there is the question of whether the penalty is too high for first-time offenders. Critics argue that, by targeting first-time drunk drivers, the program seems to be focused on disproportionately punishing first-time offenders and collecting fines, rather than stopping repeat drunk drivers.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been accused of drunk driving in Illinois, speak with an experienced DUI attorney to discuss your rights.