Should Ignition Interlock Devices be Required for School Bus Drivers?
The debate about whether school buses should be equipped with ignition interlock devices to prevent intoxicated bus drivers from getting behind the wheel is not a new one. Each year, state legislatures consider hundreds of bills that address driver safety, including laws that would require school buses to be equipped with ignition interlock devices—some advocate for DUI laws that would require ignition interlock devices for school bus drivers.
The case that brought the discussion back
A 2017 case brought up the subject of requiring ignition interlock devices for school bus drivers. This was the case of school bus driver Carole Ann Etheridge, a driver for Walton County schools in Georgia who previously had a clean work record. After dropping off her bus full of 31 middle and high school students one August morning, a student passenger reported her for driving erratically.
An initial breathalyzer test showed that she had twice the legal limit of alcohol for a commercial driver in her system. Etheridge had celebrated her birthday the evening before by drinking with friends. The group had opted to stay overnight in a hotel room rather than drive home under the influence. Etheridge, however, had to report to work driving the school bus the next morning at 5:30 a.m., and her blood alcohol level remained well over the legal limit for commercial drivers when she was tested. Her lawyer speculated that her erratic driving was because she was drowsy while driving behind the wheel.
Required use of an ignition interlock device for school bus drivers would help prevent cases, such as the Etheridge case, from occurring.
What an ignition interlock device does
Ignition interlock devices may be required by law when someone is arrested or convicted for DUI to avoid a license suspension. Depending upon the state’s DUI laws, the court system may allow DUI offender to maintain their driving privileges if they have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. Once installed, the person must blow into the interlock device when they get behind the wheel, and the device measures the amount of alcohol in their breath. If the device measures above the established threshold limit, which in many cases is set at a 0.02 breath alcohol concentration (BrAC), the vehicle will not start. In addition, once cleared to start the vehicle, the device requires that the driver submits to random rolling retests at varying intervals. Failing the rolling retest typically results in a violation of the offender’s conditions of bail or probation.
Ignition interlock devices can be installed for non-offenders commercial drivers like school bus drivers, truck drivers, etc. To protect its drivers, an employer may opt-in to install an interlock device in company vehicles. For instance, in 2018, the European Transport Safety Council recommended mandatory “alcohol interlock” installation on all new professional cars in the EU; this includes vans, buses lorries.
Benefits of using an ignition interlock device
With an ignition interlock device, all parties are safer, including the driver, the passengers, and other vehicles traveling on the road. Although it remains to be seen whether some states will require ignition interlock devices to be installed on school buses, situations like the one involving Etheridge could be avoided with required usage. The best news is this: whether the device is installed in a school bus or other work vehicle, or if you are required to have the device installed in your own personal vehicle, you will be able to maintain your driving privileges.
About Draeger US Interlock
Draeger US Interlock (DUI) is a leading manufacturer and service provider of ignition interlock devices (IID) throughout the United States. Many monitoring agencies throughout the nation use DUI’s accurate and high-quality device to help people who have received a DUI get back on the road. The device provides an automatic recording of data and fast, reliable testing so that all you must do is blow into the device and proceed on your way. Also, the costs for installation, monitoring, maintenance, and removal of a Draeger US Interlock device are clearly explained by our expert technicians. Transparent and professional communication is emphasized at Draeger US Interlock.
Draeger US Interlock is one of the most trusted ignition interlock companies in the U.S. and is adamant about finding a solution to drunk driving. For more information on our interlock devices, please contact us.
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