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Colorado ignition interlock devices explained

A person gets in their car, turns the key and nothing happens. The engine remains silent. Dead battery? Maybe. It’s also possible that the person has an ignition interlock device installed in their car and that the device has detected an unacceptable amount of alcohol in the person’s breath. The device is designed to then prevent the car from starting.

As you might know, Colorado DUI law requires the installation of ignition interlocks after even a first drunk driving conviction. 

An ignition interlock is equipped with a breathalyzer that calculates a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) after the person blows into a tube. If the BAC exceeds a preset level, the vehicle cannot be driven.

Interlock ignition devices can also require drivers to submit additional on-the-road tests to help ensure they didn’t consume alcohol after starting the vehicle.

An attorney interviewed for a recent article on ignition interlocks says the devices have lowered drunk driving deaths by up to 43 percent in states in which all DUI offenders are required to have interlocks installed. Twenty-two states now require installation of the devices after any and all DUI convictions.

It’s not just states that are requiring the devices in autos; some parents have had interlocks installed in cars driven by their teens, who are then forced to use the device before starting the vehicle.

Some commercial vehicles are also equipped with the devices, as are some school buses.

There are also organizations pressing automakers and the federal government to have all new cars equipped with interlock ignition devices or similar technologies that will detect the presence of alcohol in a driver.

For those facing the prospect of having an interlock installed at their expense in their vehicle, a conversation with an experienced DUI defense attorney is in order.

Source:, "How ignition interlock devices can stop drunk drivers in their tracks," Lynn Walford, June 11, 2014

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