MADD: Breathalyzer ignition interlock systems kept 32,000 impaired drivers off the road in 2018

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving are touting the benefits of the ignition interlock system for DWI offenders.

"It's an in-car breathalyzer," said Suzanne Deatherage. "It's a field sobriety test on the go."

And Deatherage says, it's been working.

"In Texas alone, last year, more than 32,000 attempted starts were averted and kept drunk drivers off the road," said Deatherage.

A car with the ignition interlock system installed won't start unless the driver blows a .03.

Dottie McDonald with Smart Start, an ignition interlock manufacturer, explains when use is required in Texas: "Mandatory on second subsequent offenses, as a condition of bond, a condition of probation, and a condition of an occupational driver's license, also as a condition of probation on first offense if they blow a .15 or higher."

Furthermore, if offenders are thinking of using someone else's breath to pass the test, McDonald says that won't work. A camera is installed above the dash for each ignition interlock system, and it takes a photo of the person using the device--every time it's used.

"So we know who's actually taking the test," said McDonald. "These units also come with cellular downloads and GPS so we can see the entire route that the client is driving for example."

News 3's Kathleen Witte gave the Smart Start ignition interlock system a try. See the full demonstration in the video player above.

The Smart Start is available for purchase, even for volunteers, at AG Solar Guard in Bryan.