The alcohol interlock is a monitoring tool that, when coupled with appropriate reporting and supervision, can be effective in controlling the behavior of alcohol impaired drivers.

Across jurisdictions and around the world, the implementation of alcohol interlocks through supervision programs is diverse. No two applications are alike - alcohol interlocks are applied with different purposes to different populations of users; users must meet different eligibility requirements, multiple agencies may be involved in administering these applications, and reporting, monitoring, and sanctioning functions vary substantially (Click here to learn more about why this diversity has occurred, its consequences, and how it is being addressed).

The purpose of this section is not to describe a specific model or application that can be implemented in all jurisdictions. Given the diversity across applications and the varying stages of development and features, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach is impractical. Jurisdictions must have some flexibility to modify components to suit their respective needs given the existing variation in goals, available resources (e.g., funding, infrastructure, staffing), delivery systems, and specific challenges (e.g., rural jurisdictions, lack of transportation alternatives).

Instead, the purpose of this section is to inform practitioners about current ways that alcohol interlocks are delivered and some of the limitations that have been identified. More importantly, this section is designed to provide practitioners with insight into ways these limitations can be minimized and/or overcome with practical strategies that can improve the delivery of alcohol interlock programs.

Providing practitioners with good information enables them to recognize challenges associated with their own particular policies and practices and make informed decisions when applying alcohol interlocks in order to maximize their effectiveness. 

In this section, practitioners will learn the following:

  • strategies to ensure that offenders are motivated to comply with orders to install an alcohol interlock device and are less likely to become part of the unlicensed driver population;
  • strategies to identify which types of offenders have the greatest need for an alcohol interlock when resources are limited;
  • strategies to effectively monitor offenders to encourage compliance and behavior change; and,
  • strategies to determine when it is appropriate to remove the device. 

Information about a variety of other important aspects of interlock program delivery such as addressing the issue of offenders who cannot afford a device (i.e., unaffordability; sometimes referred to as indigency), the development of reciprocal arrangements, the use of vendor oversight protocols, increasing program participation, reporting procedures and automation, and the value of integrating different interventions are also highlighted. There is a discussion of common trends and features in interlock programs and the identification of challenges and/or barriers that many jurisdictions encounter. Various resources are also available including NHTSA tools and reports, case studies from several jurisdictions, a report on the use of alcohol interlocks with first offenders, a roadmap to implement alcohol interlocks, options for increasing participation, and examples of interlock program features from a number of U.S. jurisdictions in the form of workflow charts.

Last updated December 2012