Healy & McCann, PC

In-car Breathalyzers may cause accidents to occur

Interlock devices used to prevent drunk driving accidents are becoming increasingly popular in Oregon and across the United States. These devices require that a driver breathes into a Breathalyzer before the car will start. Though some advocates believe that their use helps deter drunk driving, they may also cause car accidents to occur.

The use of ignition interlocking devices has tripled in recent years. The Center for Disease Control estimates that making the devices more widespread in vehicles may reduce accidents caused by DUI repeat offenders by up to 70%. There is some evidence to back this statement; a 2016 study done by researchers at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics found that the interlock devices were associated with 15% fewer alcohol-related accident fatalities for repeat offenders.

Unfortunately, these benefits may be somewhat negated by their risks. Many interlock devices require that drivers breathe into the device while the car is operating. This action distracts drivers, similar to using a cell phone while driving. Being distracted increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. A recent investigation found that while the devices did prevent accidents, they also caused dozens of others by distracting the drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers pull over to the side of the road before breathing into the interlocking device.

Drivers bear the responsibility of paying attention while operating a motor vehicle. When a distracted driver causes a collision, he or she may be held legally and financially responsible for any resulting damages. A lawyer could help a car accident victim file a civil suit against the at-fault driver. In some cases, a motorist may have become distracted while breathing into the Breathalyzer, causing an accident. This driver could then be responsible for medical and compensatory damages to the injured party.

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