SWOV Catalogus


A review of international evidence on the use of alcohol ignition interlocks in drink-drive offences.
20081405 ST [electronic version only]
Clayton, A. & Beirness, D.
London, Department for Transport (DfT), 2008, 91 p., 26 ref.; Road Safety Research Report ; No. 89 - ISSN 1468-9138 / ISBN 978-1-904763-97-0

Samenvatting This report reviews the international experience regarding implementation of alcohol ignition interlock programmes and gathers relevant expert advice related to the current state of knowledge regarding benefits and challenges to implementing such programmes. Two decades on from the initial development of the interlock, interlock programmes are (or soon will be) available for drink-driving offenders in all but two US states and two Canadian provinces and territories. The level of implementation of the interlock programmes varies widely. In Australia, there is a major programme in Victoria and some smaller ones elsewhere. Progress in Europe has been much slower. Programmes exist in Sweden, Finland and the Hautee Savoie region of France. The Netherlands intends to run a trial in 2008/09. Other jurisdictions have, as yet, shown little signs of interest. The review of international experience was undertaken under five main headings: • set-up issues; • operational issues; • scheme effectiveness; • costs; and • future issues. Although there were problems in the UK study in setting-up the service centres, they were specific to the study and are unlikely to be replicated in any future offender programme. Normally the network of service centres is established by the service provider(s) in accordance with the specification laid down by the jurisdiction. Considerable advice and assistance is available from published documents and individuals with extensive experience of interlock programmes. To ensure compliance with the programme, it is essential that the various violations and their associated sanctions are made clear and that the effective monitoring of clients is implemented. It should be recognised that most offenders will commit some minor violations as they get used to the equipment. By contrast, the level of attempted circumvention in offender programmes is extremely low — often reported as less than 1%. In addition to any financial penalties, there is now a move towards open-ended programmes in which the offender must show a violation-free record for a period of three to twelve months before being allowed to apply for a full, unrestricted licence. Some jurisdictions impose short jail terms for the most serious violations. Interlock programmes have been shown to be effective in reducing drink-driving recidivism for both first-time and repeat offenders while the device is installed: However, there is little, if any, residual effect in preventing impaired driving after the device is removed. Interlock devices were designed to provide a physical barrier between the drinker and the operation of the vehicle in which the device was installed. It is unrealistic to expect that the technology would have an effect that persisted beyond the period of use. The main problem lies with low participation rates. Essentially, interlock programmes are not inherently attractive to offenders. Some offenders will prefer to accept and obey a period of disqualification. Others will accept disqualification but continue to drive and drive after drinking. The key to participation is to make the programme more attractive or the ‘least unattractive’ option available. So long as offenders are able to avoid the interlock programme by waiting or simply driving while disqualified, they will do so and participation rates will remain low. Schemes are costed on the basis of fixed (largely set-up) and variable (mainly participant) costs. Most schemes are based upon the principle of ‘user pays’, with a typical cost of £500 to £800 in North America for a one-year programme. This cost includes the provision and servicing of the interlock, the provision of a restricted licence at the beginning of the programme and a full licence on successful completion of the programme. In two European schemes where attendance at an alcohol education scheme is required or regular assessment of alcohol markers is undertaken, the costs are higher. Some schemes offer discounts to low-income participants (indigents). The subsidy is paid for by an indigent fee imposed on other participants. Some jurisdictions do contribute to the indigent fund. Advances in technology mean that cameras to identify the individual who provided the breath sample can now be incorporated into the device. Other possibilities for the future include passive alcohol detection. Trends in interlock programmes are towards installing the interlock as soon as possible after the offence, dispensing with any initial period of disqualification, and adopting a criterion-based approach to completing the programme. One final issue relates to the increasing sophistication of the electronic systems of modern cars which threaten the future installation of interlocks. (Author/publisher)
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