The more effective a law is, the more everyone wants to share that success. Ignition interlock devices, as consequences for breaking drunk driving laws, are a perfect example. Each year, more states require the devices for even a first-time drunk driving conviction. For a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) conviction or more than one DUI, you’ll have an interlock in all states. Then, there are those discretionary interlock requirements direct from a judge’s order.
So why not have all states require ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving convictions… for life?
Because of constitutional reasons: each state has the ability to dictate its own traffic laws. But, aside from that, a lifelong ignition interlock device isn’t necessarily the answer for the remainder of a convicted offender’s life. A first-time DUI offender is likely to never repeat that mistake after serving out the entirety of their interlock requirement. A lifelong requirement is a bit much when a person has committed to sober driving for life instead.
However, there are three states that do have lifelong ignition interlock requirements. Once you’ve been convicted of several drunk driving offenses in New Mexico, South Carolina or Wyoming, you will absolutely have a lifelong requirement. You will also have several years of possible incarceration time, too. A lifetime ignition interlock makes sense for offenders who show that they are absolutely not willing to drive sober despite other punishments.
Would having all states require a lifetime ignition interlock commitment prevent drunk driving? Probably not. There are always those determined to exercise free, intoxicated will on the roads and drive illegally. Plus, the devices give a boost of self-respect to an offender by allowing a normal life after a DUI. That self-respect grows once the device is removed and the requirement or program has been completed. It may be simple to say all drunk drivers should be required to use ignition interlock devices for life, but that’s not the solution either. Giving a DUI offender the chance to determine their own responsible future is much more promising.