Oklahoma DUI Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition interlock and SCRAM devices

Experience is the name
everyone gives to their mistakes.

As the result of pressure from lobbying groups, the federal government has increased the pressure on the States to take measures to ensure repeat offenders do not drink and drive and in some cases, consume alcohol at all.  Similar to the same methods used to force the States to lower the legal limit from .10 to .08 and increase the legal drinking age to 21, the federal government threatens to withhold highway money unless the States change their state laws to reflect the demands of the federal government.

Ignition Interlock

The most widely used method to prevent drunk drivers from re-offending is requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device.  We call this device the “blow and go.”  There are several companies offering these devices which are all essentially the same device.  These companies include Smart Start and Guardian Interlock.

An ignition interlock is basically a portable bare bones breathalyzer.  However, it does not have the same screening filters to keep out other interferents like the bigger machines used by law enforcement agencies.

The device attaches to your vehicle under the dash near the driver’s right leg.  It is installed directly into the ignition system of your vehicle.  According to the manufacturers, the devices do not cause any permanent damage to your vehicle.  The devices are small with an approximate size of 3.5 inches by 6 inches.  This box will have a blow tube on one end and a cord similar to a telephone cord on the other end extending under the dash.

In order to start your vehicle, you will have to blow into the ignition interlock device.  If any alcohol is detected in your breath, your car won’t start.  Hmmmm… I’ll just have my sober friend blow and I’ll be off.  Nice thinking, but usually you will have to blow again after you drive a while.  The only way around this would be to take your friend that hasn’t consumed any alcohol with you.

Oklahoma requires the installation of a blow and go for all 180 day license suspensions if you are going to drive during the suspension period under a modified license.  One year and three year suspensions are modifiable also if you install a blow and go on your car.  If you have received a one year or three year suspension, there is a chance the Department of Public Safety may classify you as an excessive user of alcohol and require the installation of an ignition interlock device for 12 months after your license is reinstated.

The terms and conditions of probation in the criminal case may also require the installation of an ignition interlock device for a specified time frame as a condition of probation.

The use of ignition interlocks is excessive in some situations.  For example, the device only detects alcohol but Oklahoma requires the installation of the device even when your suspension is the result of driving under the influence of prescription medicine.  Toyota has recently announced the introduction of vehicles that have what amounts to an ignition interlock built into the car so it will not start if you have any alcohol in your system.


Another alcohol detecting device starting to be used more and more is the SCRAM ankle monitor.  The SCRAM device is an ankle monitor similar to a global position monitor used by some states and the federal government for persons under house arrest.  Think of Martha Stewart serving her house arrest on her multimillion dollar farm.  This monitor communicates through a modem connected to a monitoring station which alerts the authorities if alcohol is detected.

The SCRAM device uses the same technology and chemistry used in the Breathalyzer. This technology is called a fuel cell.  It samples or tests the constant perspiration coming from your skin for traces of alcohol.

There are several problems with fuel cell devices. They are not specific to ethyl alcohol and can produce false positives.  At least one study has shown these types of transdermal alcohol measuring devices do not meet the basic scientific evidence requirements to be admitted in court.

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