Ignition interlocks reduce alcohol-impaired driving: study

February 24, 2011

Washington – Alcohol ignition interlocks used to prevent impaired driving can decrease re-arrest rates, according to a study (.pdf file) released Feb. 22 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers in CDC’s Community Guide branch conducted a systematic review of 15 scientific studies on ignition interlocks. Findings show that after the devices were installed, re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving decreased by a median of 67 percent relative to drivers with suspended licenses, a CDC press release said.

CDC reported that in 2009, impaired driving crashes resulted in nearly 11,000 deaths – about one-third of all traffic-related deaths. The annual cost of impaired driving is more than $110 billion. As of December 2010, 13 states require interlocks for all convicted offenders, including a first conviction. More than half of all states require some offenders to install the devices.

Researchers concluded that the potential for interlock programs to reduce alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes is limited by the small number of offenders who participate in the programs.

The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.