; Tippetts, A. S.
; and Voas, R.B Traffic Injury Prevention
, vol. 4, pgs. 188-194 (2003)This report summarizes evidence presented during the Third Annual Ignition Interlock Symposium at Vero Beach, Florida, 29 October 2002. The ignition interlock prevents a car from starting when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is elevated. We review some of our prior work as well as introduce previously unpublished results to demonstrate the manner in which the data recorded by the alcohol ignition interlock device can serve as an advance predictor of future driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol risks. Data used in this current report represent approximately 2,200 ignition interlock users from Alberta, Canada, and about 8,000 interlock users from Quebec, Canada; the Alberta data set contained 5.5 million breath tests and the Quebec data 18.8 million breath tests. All tests are time and date stamped and this information was used to characterize patterns of BAC and vehicle use, and the relationship between BAC elevations and DUI offenses that accumulated after the interlock was removed from the vehicles. Findings from Cox regression (Marques et al., 2003) show that BAC elevations > .02-.04% are more potent predictors of repeat DUI (p < .0001) than even prior DUI (p < .006), usually found to be the strongest indicator of driver risk. Prior DUI obviously has no use for scaling the risk of first-time offenders. Drivers who are both multiple offenders and who have more than a few elevated interlock BAC tests are much more likely to repeat DUI. The timing and pattern of elevated BAC tests provided during the time drivers were required to use an alcohol ignition interlock device are remarkably similar on both a daily basis and an hourly basis when the interlock programs from the two provinces are compared directly. Both provinces had higher rates of elevated tests on Saturday and Sunday, and the fewest elevated tests on Tuesdays. The absolute rate of elevated tests is similar despite the two provinces adhering to different interlock lockout points (.02% Quebec; .04% Alberta). Charts tracking the Monday-Friday timing of elevated BAC tests by hour are nearly identical for both provinces. The most elevated BAC tests occurred between 7 and 9 A.M. Monday to Friday, even though most vehicle start attempts occurred much later in the day. This higher rate of elevated morning BAC likely represents drinking from the prior evening with alcohol not yet cleared from circulation; those with elevated BAC in the early morning were more likely to have a repeat offense even after accounting for prior DUI and the higher overall rate of elevated BAC tests. This is viewed as evidence of a drinking problem that will lead to impaired driving after the controlling function of the interlock is removed. Policy changes are discussed that might take better advantage of interlock information to improve the public response to drunk driving.