Many people convicted of drunk driving charges lose the right to drive for a period as part of their consequences. In some cases, they may reinstate their driving privileges if they install and use ignition interlock devices. Hardwired into a vehicle and connected to the vehicle ignition, these devices require a person to pass a breath test before they start the ignition. What many people don’t know is that IIDs also require drivers to take random retests while actively driving.

A recent report by The New York Times exposes a reality that many have avoided talking about. Ignition interlock devices contribute to distracted driving and, in turn, to accidents. There are three forms of distraction deemed risky for drivers: manual, cognitive and visual. The use of an IID while driving may introduce all three types of distraction.

When prompted for a rolling retest, a driver must pay attention to the instructions and process of providing the breath sample. They must also hold the unit in their hand. In some situations, they must even read information on the device screen.

Intoxalock, a provider of IIDs, indicates that its systems give drivers a six-minute window in which to complete a random retest and indicates people may pull over to do so. However, six minutes may not always be sufficient time to find a safe place to stop. If a test fails to complete within this window, the IID will set off a series of alerts that may include the vehicle horn honking and lights flashing until the vehicle comes to a stop and the ignition is turned off.