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Traffic injury Research Foundation

About Interlocks



There are many different ways to implement alcohol interlocks and today researchers, practitioners and policymakers are working to optimize implementation strategies. In the interim, practitioners need to identify their priorities in using these devices and then determine the potential implications of those priorities. Key decisions that must be made include who is eligible and ineligible for the program, who will take responsibility for certain aspects (e.g., monitoring, sanctioning), as well as, how work (e.g., violations) will be defined and managed and what type of responses are applied.

In this regard, practitioners must therefore, have a good sense of available resources and capabilities when determining how, to whom, when and how long these devices will be applied. Legislators also play an important role in implementing needed legislation to facilitate delivery of these devices.

The monitoring component of any alcohol interlock program is the key to success and must be strengthened. Without proper monitoring offenders are able to slip through the cracks and will not reap the full benefits of supervision using this device. It is vital that good communication channels are developed between all agencies involved in the monitoring process including licensing officials, sanctioning agencies, law enforcement, and even treatment professionals as appropriate. All of these players must work together in order to determine how best to facilitate the supervision of impaired driving offenders. Failure to do so is likely to result in unsuccessful completion of supervision and an increase in the unlicensed driver population.

An emphasis must be placed on getting offenders to consistently install these devices and to retain these drivers in the driver licensing system so that they can eventually be re-licenced as opposed to having them discover that they are better served by driving without a licence. It cannot be stressed enough that it is imperative to keep higher risk offenders in the alcohol interlock programs so as to protect the public. These drivers present the greatest danger and are also likely to have the highest rate of non-compliance. While practitioners may become frustrated with their actions, this particular population should remain in the program no matter how many violations are recorded.

In order for an alcohol interlock program to be established successfully, there must be sound practices based on good policies. Practitioners should be consulted and engaged in the policy development process so that their input and concerns can be addressed from the outset. Ultimately, decision makers and policy developers need to model the delivery of alcohol interlocks in a way that is constructive as opposed to punitive. From the outset, offenders should be encouraged and supported to succeed. Setting offenders up to fail will not benefit anyone in the long run, particularly when the objective is to return them to the roads as safe and sober drivers. Violations are to be expected but there should be a system of graduated reinforcements and punishments put in place to deal with these issues as they arise. Through effective monitoring, sound policy, and encouragement practitioners will have the tools necessary to run a successful alcohol ignition interlock program.

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