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Car Ignition 'Interlocks' Thwart Alcohol-Impaired Drivers
Date:2/22/2011

TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Ignition devices that prevent people from driving after drinking greatly reduce the number of new arrests of drivers who were previously arrested for drunk driving, U.S. researchers report.

The team with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Guide branch reviewed 15 studies on ignition interlocks, devices that prevent someone from operating a vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a specified level, usually 0.02 to 0.04 grams per deciliter. The minimum illegal BAC is 0.08 g/dL in every state.

Ignition interlocks work by sampling a driver's breath before the vehicle can be started and periodically while the vehicle is being driven. The devices are often mandated for people who have been convicted of drunk driving, the CDC said.

The researchers' review found that the use of ignition interlocks led to a 67 percent decrease in the number of drivers who were re-arrested for drunk driving, compared to those whose licenses were simply suspended.

The findings appear in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"When offenders' licenses are suspended, they aren't legally able to provide transportation for themselves and others who may rely on them to get to places like school and work," study author Randy Elder, scientific director of systematic reviews with the Community Guide branch, said in a CDC news release. "Ignition interlocks allow offenders to keep operating their vehicles legally. At the same time, they effectively ensure that they do so more safely -- not under the dangerous effects of alcohol."

Currently, 13 states require ignition interlocks for all people convicted of drunk driving, including first offenders. More than half of states require interlocks for some offenders, such as those with multiple drunk driving convictions or those who had an extremely high blood alcohol level at the ti
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