People across the U.S. who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated are using breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) in order to retain their driving privileges. A BAIID is a Breathalyzer connected to a vehicle that requires the user to provide a breath sample to prove that they have not been drinking. In Texas, first-time DWI offenders can opt to use a BAIID to continue driving during their driver’s license suspension. BAIID installation is mandatory for people who have been convicted of DWI for a second time or had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or greater. While proponents of BAIIDs say that the device has saved numerous lives by stopping people from driving drunk, a smaller group of skeptics point out that the requirement to continue providing breath samples while driving has caused fatal crashes.
Once the BAIID user has started their vehicle, they must continue to prove that they are not drinking by providing breath samples every five to 15 minutes, which are commonly called rolling retests. A recent investigation by The New York Times found dozens of crashes across the country that were caused by drivers who were distracted by having to take a rolling retest. There are several distractions related to the retests:
- The BAIID will beep when it is time for a retest, which will immediately grab the driver’s attention.
- The driver may have only five minutes to provide a sample, creating a sense of panic.
- Providing a breath sample requires the driver to find the device, hold it in their hand and blow air into it, all of which can be distracting.
- Failing the test or not providing a sample in time will cause the vehicle’s horn to go off and lights to start flashing, which is distracting to the driver and other nearby drivers.
BAIID advocates argue that the driver has ample time to pull over before taking a rolling retest, but this may be unrealistic if the driver is on a road that does not have a safe place to stop. Also, the sensors in BAIIDs have been known to falsely identify alcohol in the user’s breath, creating an unnecessary distraction....