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Ignition interlock devices

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Ignition interlocks are devices that can be installed in vehicles to prevent operation by a driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a specified level. Interlocks are most often installed in vehicles of people who have been convicted of alcohol-impaired driving. Interlocks can be mandated by courts or offered by state licensing agencies as an alternative to a suspended driver’s license, often as a provision of a restricted license. Interlocks are generally installed for the length of time a license would be suspended, usually between 6 and 24 months (CG-Motor vehicle injury).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced rearrest rates
Reduced alcohol-related crashes

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that installing ignition interlock devices for people convicted of alcohol-impaired driving reduces re-arrest rates while interlocks are installed (CG-Motor vehicle injury). When removed, however, rearrest rates are similar to persons convicted of alcohol-impaired driving who have not used interlocks (CG-Motor vehicle injury, IAS-Anderson 2006).

Drivers with interlocks appear to have fewer alcohol-related crashes than drivers whose licenses have been suspended for an alcohol-impaired driving conviction (CG-Motor vehicle injury, IAS-Anderson 2006). Research suggests that more widespread and sustained use of interlocks among those convicted of alcohol-impaired driving could have a substantial impact on alcohol-related crashes (CG-Motor vehicle injury).


United States

As of September 2013, every state has an ignition interlock law, although specifics vary. Fifteen states have mandatory ignition interlock provisions for all offenses: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Illinois and Colorado do not mandate ignition interlocks for a first conviction, but include strong incentives to install devices (NCSL-Ignition interlock)


As of September 2013, interlocks are mandatory in Wisconsin for a minimum of one year when drivers’ BAC is 0.15 or greater; interlocks are also often used for individuals with multiple offenses within 5 years. (NCSL-Ignition interlock).

Citations - Description

CG-Motor vehicle injury - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Motor vehicle injury prevention. Accessed on December 19, 2016

Citations - Evidence

CG-Motor vehicle injury - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Motor vehicle injury prevention. Accessed on December 19, 2016
IAS-Anderson 2006 - Anderson P, Baumberg B. Alcohol in Europe: A public health perspective. London, UK: Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS); 2006. Accessed on February 17, 2016

Citations - Implementation

NCSL-Ignition interlock - National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). State ignition interlock laws. Accessed on March 10, 2016

Page Last Updated

October 11, 2013