A new state law that takes effect this Sunday will force anyone with a drunk driving conviction to install an “ignition interlock” on their vehicle if they want to legally drive during their probationary period. The devices test a driver’s breath and prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, but until now only repeat drunk drivers and first time offenders with a high blood alcohol level have been forced to use them in Iowa. Brad Fralick is a spokesman for Intoxalock, a Des Moines-based company that makes and installs the devices.

It costs about 80 dollars to install the device, another 70-dollars a month to rent it and then about 40 dollars to have it removed when the probationary period is over. Those fees are all paid by the convicted drunk driver.

After the engine starts, the devices periodically require another breath test to make sure the driver is sober and that no one else blew into the device to start the engine. Several states also require cameras which provide visual confirmation the driver is testing his or her own breath.

Iowa is now one of 30 states which require everyone convicted of drunk driving to install these devices.

A study published last year in the American Journal of Medicine indicated there had been a seven percent decrease in fatal drunk driving crashes in states where everyone convicted of drunk driving must test their breath before their vehicle will start. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the devices reduce repeat arrests for drunk driving by about 70 percent while they are installed. Another alcohol-related state law goes into effect today. It reduces liability for bars and restaurants accused of over-serving alcohol to someone involved in a drunk driving accident.

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