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High-tech Solutions to Drinking and Driving: Evaluation of a Statewide, Voluntary Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program

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Project Summary:

This will summarize the results of this program during its first full year of operation from 9/96 through 9/97. The program is a voluntary program administered through the Hearings Section, Colorado Department of Revenue, using the hearing officers for the administrative license sanctions for DUI. Approved applicants have their remaining revocation time doubled, pay $47 per month to lease the device, and report to the vendor monthly for monitoring and adjustment. The minimum time for use is six months. The program was designed to attract "reformed drinking drivers", "hard core drinking drivers" and repeat offenders. During this first full year of operation, 870 persons applied for interlocks. The applicants appeared to fit the description of the target groups since 76% had had repeat arrests for DUI, 60% had a most recent BAC level of 0.15% or above, and 85%were classified as "problem drinkers" using a classification system that included the Mortimer-Filkins scores and prior driver history. Forty percent had a classification of "habitual offender" on their driver's record at the time of application. The success of these applicants having an interlock installed was as follows: 45% were found to be statutorily ineligible, 30% were in some stage of approval but did not have an interlock installed, 25% had ignition interlock devices installed. The major reasons for being found to be statutorily ineligible were as follows: 46% had not served enough time according to mandatory time in the law, 30% had outstanding judgments and warrants, 37% had pending charges. After excluding applicants by administrative review of their driving records, only 18 additional persons were denied interlocks at hearing. During the 1998 legislative session, the law was amended to allow applicants with outstanding judgments and warrants to obtain interlocks after paying the fines required. Regarding the amount of time served before one is eligible for an interlock, this varies with the number of prior offenses. At the time of the hearing the median time served by applicants refused for this reason was 82 days. The reason persons with pending charges are declared ineligible relates to not being able to determine what the length of license revocation is. Only three persons on interlock during the first year had their lease revoked for violation of the terms of the agreement. The vendor monitoring information revealed a high proportion of monthly "fail reports" but they were of a low level of severity and actual monitoring hearings were few with most problems being resolved with telephone contact by the hearing officers. The long-term plan for evaluation includes following those on interlock after restoration of their regular license privilege for recidivism. There will be two comparison groups: those approved but who did not install interlocks (characteristics very similar to interlock users) and those found statutorily ineligible.

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