Several States have recently authorized judges to use breath analyzer ignition interlock devices as an optional sanction in drunk driving cases; interlocks are often used in combination with a fine, license suspension, jail sentence, probation, or treatment program order. The Hamilton County (Ohio) Drinking and Driving Study involves a quasi-experimental study design which compares samples of DUI offenders who received license suspension and license suspension-plus-interlock sentences.
The measure for recidivism was rearrest for DUI, driving under suspension, no driver's license, and other alcohol- and drug-related driving offenses. Official background data used in the study included demographic identifiers, court administrative information, and prior involvement with the judicial system. The self-reported interview and questionnaire covered the respondent's alcohol-related behavioral patterns, alcohol-related attitudes, reports of any prior DUI arrests, and experience with the interlock device. Preliminary findings showed that ignition interlock devices substantially reduced the incidence of DUI recidivism; the license suspension group had a 30-month failure rate of 9.8 percent, compared to 3.4 percent for the interlock group. Furthermore, the interlock group had a substantially lower rate of sanction circumvention. These results are sufficient to justify conducting a large-scale study of the effectiveness of interlock devices. 4 tables, 2 figures, 14 notes, and 57 references (Author abstract modified)