Man Looking at BreathalyzerMore and more insurance companies are offering discounts to drivers who will give up some of their privacy in exchange for behavior monitoring. Pay-as-you-go policies like Allstate’s Drivewise or Progressive’s Snapshot program monitor a driver’s behaviors and offer discounts based on that data, and most insureds are happy to comply. Basing car insurance rates on a driver’s actual behaviors rather than statistical data keeps rates low and removes some of the guesswork from calculating risk.

The insurance-installed monitoring systems are not the only things that can positively affect a driver’s habits. One device that’s swiftly gaining in popularity is an interlock breathalyzer, which prevents people from driving while intoxicated. Although this technology is currently being used to prevent relapse in people who have been convicted of DUIs in the past, they may become more commonplace in the future. If that occurs, drivers may be able to obtain substantial discounts for their use. Until then, an interlock breathalyzer can help certain high-risk drivers qualify for insurance.

Why DUIs Affect Insurance Prices

Alcohol is one of the greatest contributing factors to serious car accidents. Drunk driving accidents cost insurance companies a lot of money, and alcohol-related collisions tend to be more serious than those not involving inhibited drivers.

If you have ever been convicted of a DUI, your insurance rates can increase tremendously. Some insurance companies may even drop your policy in response to a drunk driving accident. Getting car insurance after a DUI conviction can be very difficult, and some people may find that the coverage is prohibitively expensive.

Even if you’ve never driven drunk before, DUIs still affect your insurance premiums. In states with a high incidence of drunk driving, such as Montana and Wisconsin, insurance rates tend to be quite high. This is because your odds of being involved in a collision with a drunk driver are higher in areas where many people drive drunk. In order to mediate this expense, insurance companies are forced to raise their rates.

How Interlock Breathalyzers Work

An interlock breathalyzer is a device installed into the ignition of a person’s vehicle. Before the car can be started, the driver must blow into the breathalyzer, which then calculates the driver’s blood alcohol content. If the BAC is above the legal limit, the car will not start.

Of course, these breathalyzer systems are not fail-proof. A driver can trick the system by having someone else blow into it. The driver can also get into another person’s car without an interlock system and drive that one. Nevertheless, the interlock systems place substantial boundaries intoxicated people and their vehicles, and these boundaries are enough to dramatically reduce the incidence of drunk driving.

Improvements in technology have also made the systems harder to tamper with. They may incorporate voice or facial recognition software to ensure that the licensed driver is the one using the breathalyzer. They may also utilize alarm systems if the device is tampered with. These make the interlock systems more effective, but they do add to the price tag of an already expensive machine. This is one reason why their use is not more widespread and why interlock systems are not yet practical to install in every vehicle.

Will an Interlock Breathalyzer Save Me Money on Insurance?

Right now, interlock breathalyzer systems are offered only to people with DUI convictions. Their use is mandatory for first-time offenders in 14 states. They are mandatory for repeat offenders in 29 states. Some experts have suggested that these devices may one day become standard for all vehicles, but right now they are generally installed only in the vehicles of prosecuted drunk drivers.

If you have never driven drunk before, you will not save money by installing an interlock system into your vehicle. The system itself is expensive, and there are currently no insurance companies offering discounts to the preemptive use of such devices. This may change in the future as the technology becomes more mainstream.

If you already have a DUI conviction, however, a breathalyzer may save you some money on car insurance. It may also allow you to purchase insurance from a wider array of companies than would otherwise be accessible to you. When shopping for auto insurance after a DUI, it’s a good idea to mention the interlock system to see whether that makes a difference in what policies are available and which companies you can deal with.

As technology improves, additional monitoring and control programs become available. In addition to interlock breathalyzer symptoms, there are systems that reduce distracted driving accidents by disabling cell phones while a car is in motion. Other monitoring and control systems are being developed every year. These can help reduce the number of accidents that occur each year, and safer roads lead to fewer claims. In the long term, car insurance could be revolutionized by these technologies.