Sport Utility Vehicle
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Should Motor Vehicles Be Equipped With An Ignition Interlock Device?

Could doing so reduce deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers?

Approximately 32 people die every day — or one person every 45 minutes — dies in the United States as a result of crashes which involve a drunk driver is one of the sobering statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation of the United States.

Should Motor Vehicles Be Equipped With An Ignition Interlock Device?

Furthermore, 11,654 people died in 2020 in traffic deaths which involved a driver who was impaired by alcoholic beverages — which is an increase of 14 percent from 2019 despite the fact that many areas of the United States were deep in the throes of mandatory lockdowns as a result of the onset of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

The most tragic part of these statistics is that these deaths were all preventable.

As one of countless examples, consider the untimely demise of Albert Pallone, who was the beloved mayor of the small city of Emerson for 15 years, which is located in Bartow County in northwest Georgia with a population of approximately 1,500 people. Pallone and his wife Camillia were killed by a drunk driver on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at approximately 4:00 in the afternoon on Georgia State Highway 20 — which is also known as Knox Bridge Highway — east of Fields Landing Drive five miles west of the city of Canton in the state of Georgia.

William Bryan Abernathy — who is from Calhoun — was identified by a sheriff of Cherokee County as the driver of the Chevrolet pickup truck which traveled east on the highway and allegedly lost control as it crossed the double yellow line in the center of the road and collided with both a Hyundai Santa Fe that was driven by Pallone and a Mazda 3 that were traveling westbound. The impact caused the Hyundai to overturn and swerve into the eastbound lane, where it was struck by a GMC Savana van that was traveling in the opposite direction.

Abernathy — who is 50 years old — was also injured in the crash and was taken to an undisclosed hospital. He is expected to face charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving, first-degree vehicular homicide, and serious injury by vehicle. At least two other people were injured in the incident as well.

The husband and wife were pronounced dead at the scene as the result of an irresponsible but completely avoidable act. The entire city of Emerson is mourning their substantial loss — and at the beginning of what is supposed to be a joyous holiday season.

Al and Millie Pallone would likely still be alive today had the Chevrolet pickup truck been equipped with an ignition interlock device.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a form of electronic monitoring that is also known as a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, which requires the driver of a motor vehicle to blow into a mouthpiece on the device — which is located inside of the vehicle near the seat of the driver and is directly connected to the ignition system of the engine — before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle.

If the analyzed result of the concentration of alcohol on the breath of the driver is greater than the programmed concentration of blood alcohol concentration — which varies between states as listed in detail in this article from the National Conference of State Legislatures; and it also varies by country — the device prevents the engine from being started, which therefore means that the motor vehicle cannot be driven by the inebriated person.

Final Boarding Call

The reason why I felt compelled to write this article was because I was involved in an accident in which the driver of a sport utility vehicle hit the rear end of the vehicle which I was driving

…and in an update to that incident, the law enforcement officer visited the home of the driver of the sport utility vehicle. Although he did not detect if she was in an inebriated state at the time he visited her, she did admit fault to the accident and also to leaving the scene of the accident. She was charged with following too close.

This information was from the police report, which included the full name of the driver, her address, and other important information which I would need in case a hidden injury or hidden damage surfaces…

…and frankly, I am convinced that she was inebriated at the time the accident occurred — even if it was below the legal limit. Her judgment was clearly impaired, in my opinion.

To be clear, I absolutely do not like the idea of paying extra for a motor vehicle to be equipped with an expensive device — whether it is owned, leased, or rented — because someone else is too irresponsible to prevent himself or herself from driving while intoxicated; I am also against an overly bloated government in general enacting and enforcing more rules and laws; and the possibility of the device malfunctioning in some way is real…

…but I have always considered a person who chooses to drive while inebriated to be tantamount as an act of attempted murder; and those people who allow it in some form are potentially accessories to murder. Unless it is some absolute emergency — and even then, that is questionable and debatable — no cogent reason exists for a person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Should motor vehicles be equipped with an ignition interlock device — including vehicles that are rented — in order to help to save the lives as many as greater than 11,000 people every year and prevent thousands more people from being injured in accidents which involve drunk drivers?

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I would not be in favor of requiring all new cars to have an interlock device. I would be in favor if one were convicted of DUI. I would not even object if all new drivers must use such a device during their first two years of driving.

  2. Hopefully this becomes moot with self driving cars. We are 20 years away from all people being able to drive home in their own cars while drunk and be perfectly safe doing so with the car doing the driving. These cars can have an alertness challenge for manual driving using censors for head stability and etc. without the need for alcohol detection devices.

    As to govt. mandating all cars have interlock ignition devices: no. Less freedom is always wrong. Equating a person who drinks and drives to an attempted murderer is doing a disservice to those who are actual victims of unjustified murder where malice and criminal intent were involved. People who drink excessively and drive don’t realize they are impaired. Some people drink regularly and have a higher tolerance for alcohol so something like the arbitrary blood alcohol level is not a good indicator if someone is “drunk”. That govt. coerced “legal” limit ensnares some people who were capable of driving safely. People don’t intend to harm people or themselves when they are inebriated. They aren’t thinking clearly. They might be foolish but it is not the same level of vileness as someone who rapes, robs, or arrests christians for going to church or Orthodox Church whether in the U.S. during Covid or Ukraine now. The govt. makes things worse with criminalizing people for drunk driving despite committing no actual wrong against another when they don’t have accidents that harm others. We’d be better off with cops allowing people to call a loved one to take them home, pick up the car, or get a tow. We’d be better off if individuals could pull over to the side of the road and sleep in their car if they feel half way through the drive that they are impaired rather than fearing police and trying to make it home.

    While govt. should not be requiring anything, insurance companies can require these devices for those with a history of alcoholism. I do feel there needs to be an override for all interlock devices as men or women can be pursued by an attacker or have a medical emergency where they need to drive to the hospital.

  3. As a risk manager, I have mixed feelings about this. At some point, people have to take personal responsibility. Interlock devices, automatic seatbelts, self-driving, firmware that prevents going over the speed limit, government monitoring of your interior and exterior dash cam, etc. have been tried or are coming. Europe is a bit ahead of the USA on some of this due to liberal EU overreach so we’ll see. Part of the problem with DUIs is the lack of punishment for those criminals. They let them drive to work, off on probation, not to get political but just go check on the “punishment” given out to people like Paul Pelosi or other celebrities. I’ll save you the time, he didn’t even have to appear in court, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving, and was sentenced to 5 days in jail and 3-year probation. Guess who will likely serve 5 days under house arrest and will likely never even meet with a probation officer.

  4. 10x as many people die from fentanyl overdoses in the USA every day. 300 dead. Every day. Should we consider a secure border?


  5. How about requiring snow tires on every car in the winter north of the 35th parallel with the exception of a few counties in California, like San Francisco county?

    How about sleep logs and banning driving if you had less than 6 hours of sleep?

    The snow tire idea is actually better than the interlock idea.

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