Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

Don’t let your IID cause a distracted driving crash

New Jersey law requires that just about anyone convicted of DUI or DWI have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle to drive legally. How long it needs to remain installed will depend on the seriousness of the offense – namely the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level and whether the charge was a first-time offense. That can mean having an IID from a few months to as long as four years for a repeat offense.

Having an IID can take a bit of getting used to. You’re required to blow into it not just to start your vehicle but periodically while you’re driving. This helps ensure that people don’t start drinking once they’ve started their car and that they aren’t getting one of their children or some other person to start their car for them if they’re over the .05 limit at which the device must be set under New Jersey law.  (These devices are equipped with cameras to prevent that.)

Rolling retests have led to crashes

These devices undoubtedly save lives. However, the requirement for “rolling retests” while a person is driving can be a dangerous distraction if drivers try to perform them while driving. Even though a driver doesn’t need to take their eyes off the road to do the test, an investigative report by The New York Times found dozens of crashes caused by drivers doing their rolling retest while the vehicle was moving.

If a driver doesn’t blow into the IID when prompted, the car will continue to run. However, something will happen to alert those around it  – such as the horn honking or the lights flashing. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that drivers pull off the road if possible when they receive the alert that a retest is required. Typically, a driver has a few minutes between that alert and when they have to submit a breath sample.

The last thing you need after a DUI or DWI is to have a car crash caused by submitting a required breath test. By getting comfortable with the device and providing samples when required in a safe place before you take to the interstate or other busy road, you can help your time with your IID go more smoothly.

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