Interlock Devices Cut DWI Recidivism
New research shows that first-time drunk-driving offenders whose cars were fitted with ignition-interlock devices were 60 percent less likely to re-offend than those who were not ordered to install the devices, which prevent a car from being started when the driver has any amount of alcohol in their body.
Researcher Paul Marques, Ph.D., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation said that the study backed up previous research on the use of ignition-interlock devices and countered studies that questioned the effectiveness of using the devices with first-time offenders.
“The idea that there should be any important difference between the risk posed by a first offender and a repeat offender is unsupported,” Marques said. “The average first offender has driven drunk many times before he or she was arrested. The big risk difference is between non-offenders and first offenders. The risk difference between first offenders and repeat offenders is small by comparison.”
Marques and colleagues also estimated that the public saves $3 for every $1 spent on interlock devices. “Interlocks present an opportunity to help change behavior rather than simply punishing or incarcerating the offender,” Marques said. “It’s not enough to revoke a license — 75 percent of all people with revoked licenses drive anyway — but you don’t want to sentence an entire family to poverty if they’re dependent on that driver getting to and from his or her job. By installing an interlock, the risk that the DWI offender poses is controlled, and interlocks become a public benefit.”
The study compared two groups of first-time DWI offenders in New Mexico. It was published in the December 2007 issue of the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.