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Cost and Convenience of an Ignition Interlock System

Ignition interlock costs are far cheaper than sending a DUI offender to jail. In fact, the majority of the costs for this device are paid for by the convicted drunk driver. This saves taxpayers from having the bear the burden of the costs. There is an installation and a maintenance fee for ignition interlock systems which costs somewhere around $60 depending on the system.

Oftentimes DUI offenders will spend much more money on alcohol than they will on maintaining their ignition interlock device. In fact, some studies suggest drinkers will spend 30% of their salary on alcohol, whereas this device costs around $60 a month. Remember, the offender is responsible for all costs, not the court, or the taxpayers.

Specifically the costs for the ignition interlock system include installation fees, calibration fees, maintenance fees and rental fees. The DUI offender will be required to bring the ignition interlock system in for scheduled maintenance appointments. These appointments are usually part of the offender’s probation, and failure to bring in the device can be viewed as a violation of probation.

There is an array of costs involved depending on the particular ignition interlock device that is used. There are three types of sensors used in these devices: semiconductor, electrochemical and infrared. The infrared is the most expensive, and more impractical because of it’s large size. Semiconductors are less expensive, but do not work for alcohol-specific ignition interlock systems, and often produce false positives. They also require more maintenance. The best type is the electrochemical sensors because they are more sensitive machines. They will only respond to alcohol on the driver’s breath, unlike the semiconductors. The only drawback is they are slightly more expensive than the semiconductors, but they are considerably more accurate.

There are programs available for indigent offenders who cannot afford the costs of the system. The DUI offender has to prove that he or she does not have the ability to pay for the costs. Mostly though, the program is meant to be self-sustaining so that the burden is not on the taxpayers but on the DUI offender himself.

Nearly all 50 states have laws that allow for ignition interlock devices to be used as a sentencing alternative. That’s because there are not a lot of drawbacks to the device. It keeps DUI offenders off the streets. It is proven to be a deterrent, and therefore keeps recidivism rates very low. It’s convenient because it requires almost no financial participation on the part of the court or the state, leaving the burden on the offender as part of his or her punishment.

Many states are now using ignition interlock devices as an alternative to jail or another kind of punishment. In fact, many states require that even first time offenders have these systems installed in their car. Because these ignition interlock systems are so closely monitored, it is a highly successful method of prevent repeat behavior and to keep DUI offenders off the roads. Remember, these systems are convenient because they are safe, effective, accurate and convenient. Plus, ignition interlock systems save us money. The financial burden is on the offender, not on the taxpayer.