Over the last several decades, more and more states around the country have been requiring people convicted of drunk driving offenses to install and use ignition interlock devices as a requirement to reinstate their driving privileges. The length of time for which a person must use an IID can vary based on the circumstances of their case, but even a person convicted of a first-ever offense might find themselves required to pass a breath test simply to start their vehicles.
However, IIDs also require drivers to take tests while they are actively driving and it is coming to light that these rolling retests may be a new form of distracted driving, increasing the dangers people face on the road every day. According to the AAA Exchange, there are three forms of driver distractions: visual, manual and cognitive.
Car and Driver magazine provided an overview of a report issued by The New York Times after a detailed investigation into the safety and use of ignition interlock devices. A driver may be prompted to take a rolling retest at any time without warning. Because the driver never knows when a test will be required, they may not always be in a position to safely pull over to take the test, forcing them to do so while driving. Rolling retests must be completed within just a few minutes of the prompt to avoid potential violations or alerts.
A driver must read the IID unit display, contributing to a visual distraction. They must then pick up, hold and operate the display in their hand. The handheld nature of these devices results in a manual distraction. A driver must also heed all instructions and timing, so they complete the test properly, creating a cognitive distraction.