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How successful is the ignition interlock program?

Legislators have recognized that simply taking away someone's license after they have received a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in North Carolina is often not effective at preventing repeat occurrences. The truth is that people still typically need to use their vehicles to get to work or school.

The goal of the ignition interlock program is to allow people to continue to use their vehicles while reducing the risk that they will become a repeat offender. 

Positive statistics 

According to MADD, license suspension without an ignition interlock device results in repeat offenses about a third of the time. However, this device, which is about the size of a cellphone, has been instrumental in stopping drunk driving 1.77 million times, with 129,704 of these occurring in North Carolina alone. 

Limited application 

The program only works where the law applies it, though. In North Carolina, it is required for first time offenders who have a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more, but not those with a lower BAC. Any second DWI conviction includes ignition interlock device installation as one of the consequences.

Fail settings

The company that installs the interlock device may not necessarily set the limit to zero to prevent vehicle ignition if a driver has some alcohol on his or her breath. In some cases, the device may have a fail level of up to 0.04 percent, although usually the setting is 0.02 percent, depending on the circumstances. Drivers who believe they can have a drink or two and still drive safely should consider the fact that even one serving of alcohol can impair a person's judgment and slow reflexes. 

People who believe they can get around the system by having a friend blow into the device, or by borrowing someone else's vehicle, are at risk of becoming repeat offenders. Compliance with the ignition interlock program can help North Carolina drivers keep their transportation and their freedom, and save lives.

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