Arizona was one of the few states requiring first time violators of the state’s driving under the influence laws to require the installation of an interlock device for one full year after conviction. This year the state will reduce that mandatory sentence to a minimum of just six months.

Since requiring interlock devices be installed in vehicles driven by anyone convicted of driving under the influence, Arizona has reduced DUI related fatalities by more than 50 percent. In other states where the installation of interlock devices has been required of those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, similar improvements in the rate of DUI related fatalities has been reported.

In all, 15 states require interlock devices for those convicted of DUI: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

An interlock device is a piece of electronic equipment professionally installed in your vehicle which requires you to submit to and pass an automated breathalyzer test before allowing you to start the ignition. Under Arizona law offenders required to install interlock devices are required to pay installation fees (up to $300) and the monthly service charge

There is currently an effort under way, supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other anti-drunk driving forces, which would require all automobiles come equipped with an interlock device installed on the steering wheel. The system is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety and is being developed jointly by the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, comprised of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration The move is meant both as an automatic deterrent against drunk drivers and a reminder to all motorists that driving under the influence is a serious issue. The House and Senate Commerce Committees unanimously approved some funding for this work as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act during the last Congress. The measure has a smattering of support in Congress but seems unlikely to garner enough votes to pass any time soon.