Over the last couple of decades, many reports have highlighted the dangers of distracted driving. In the fall of 2017, a law in the State of Texas went into effect banning the handheld use of mobile phones while driving.
Interestingly, the use of ignition interlock devices as part of the penalties associated with a drunk driving offense continues despite the concerns about distracted driving.
Ignition interlock devices and rolling retests
Most people may know that an ignition interlock device prevents a driver from starting a vehicle until they pass a breath test proving they are not under the influence of alcohol. What many people may not know is that these devices also require a driver to take and pass subsequent tests after starting their vehicles and beginning to drive. Car and Driver magazine explains these tests, called rolling retests, occur at random intervals so a driver never knows when to expect it. This prevents them from always being in a place that allows for them to safely pull over to conduct their test.
Multiple forms of distraction created
Taking a test with an IID requires a driver to hold the device in one hand, read the display and concentrate to follow the directions. This results in manual, visual and cognitive distractions. Multiple vehicle accidents linked to a driver’s participation in a rolling retest have occurred, highlighting the danger that these create.
It appears that the mandated use of an ignition interlock device for a person convicted of an impaired driving charge may serve to pose a risk to defendants and the general public as does driving while intoxicated.