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What purpose does an ignition interlock serve?

Tennessee residents who have been convicted of driving while under the influence may end up having to deal with an ignition interlock device. You may have heard of these devices before, but what exactly are they? What purpose do they serve, and do they actually work?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) describes an ignition interlock device as something that is attached to your vehicle's ignition system. It works similarly to a breathalyzer test. You must blow into it before your car starts, and the car will not start if you've had any measurable amount of alcohol to drink. In theory, this will allow you to get basic use out of your car such as driving to and from work, to the doctor's office, or to other vital locations. It will, however, prevent you from driving while under the influence.

Statistics have shown that these devices do make a notable difference in the areas in which they're used and enforced. They help to cut down on repeat offenses, which in turn helps to lower the number of fatalities and injuries caused by drunk drivers every year. For this reason, many consider it a key part of combating DUI related accidents.

Ignition interlock devices are not required in every state. They're also not always enforced even in states where they're required, which can skew the numbers somewhat. Despite that, many organizations like MADD believe in its effectiveness and press for it to be a more prevalent way of dealing with DUI infractions.

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