I Want My Child To Be Safe When They Leave For College, Can I Put An Ignition Interlock Device On Their Vehicle?

I Want My Child To Be Safe When They Leave For College, Can I Put An Ignition Interlock Device On Their Vehicle?

We all want to protect our children. That parental instinct doesn’t go away when they go to college. In fact, it may become stronger because they will be out on their own, without the watchful eye of a parent. Add to that some scary statistics. In one study, 30% of college students who drank in the past year said they had driven after drinking alcohol during the past 30 days. In the Core survey, 39% of drinkers admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs within the past year

With statistics like those, it’s no wonder we sometimes have parents tell us, “I want my child to be safe when they leave for college. Can I put an ignition interlock device on their vehicle?”

The answer depends on who owns the car.

If your child is in their teens or early twenties and they own their own vehicle, you do not have the authority to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. Only the vehicle’s owner can authorize that. Now, you may be able to say paying for their tuition, room, and board is dependent on them installing an IID on their vehicle. That’s up to you.

If you own the vehicle but your child is taking it to college, you most certainly can get an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle.

Why You Might Want to Put an Ignition Interlock Device on Your College Student’s Car

We talked about the instinct to protect our children. But this decision is complicated. Things to consider before making the decision:

  • Does your student have a drinking problem?
  • Have they had a previous DUI?
  • Are they level-headed or prone to making bad decisions?
  • Do you trust your child?
  • Does your student even really need a car at college?

We’re all for protecting our kids. But is installing an ignition interlock device on their vehicle a reasonable option? Again, that depends. If your college student has a known drinking problem, or a previous DUI, getting an IID installed on their vehicle as a condition of them taking it to college is a smart move.

On the other hand, do you trust your child? Are they pretty smart and level-headed? The majority of young adults wouldn’t even think of drinking and driving. Chances are, they have a friend or friend of a friend who has been affected by drunk driving.

You also need to ask yourself if your student even needs a car at college. Many colleges and universities don’t allow freshmen to have cars on campus, while others charge exorbitant parking fees. And just about every college campus of any size has well-lit walkways, shuttle buses, and police escorts for people who want to get from point A to point B without a car. They even have bus services that will bring your student home on breaks and take them back to campus.

If You Do Decide to Put an Ignition Interlock Device on Their Car

So if you do decide to put an ignition interlock device on their car (owned by you), there are several basic things you should know, including how an ignition interlock device works and how much an ignition interlock device costs. 

How an Ignition Interlock Device Works

Basically, an ignition interlock device is an in-car breathalyzer that controls the vehicle’s starter. Blow into the device and pass the test, and you can start the vehicle like you normally would. Blow into the device and it detects alcohol, and you will fail the test. That means the device will prevent you from starting the car.

Since you would be adding the IID voluntarily, you can choose to follow the guidelines and parameters of your state ignition interlock laws (simplest) or you can set up your own rules. Most devices allow a user a certain amount of time after failing a test before they can try again. Devices can also permanently lock a driver out after a predetermined number of test failures within a certain time period. You can ask your installation technician about setting up the device.

The device records a number of things. We normally transmit that information to the courts or DMV in instances where IID installation is mandated. In a voluntary installation, the recorded information will be made available to you. Your college student would need to bring the vehicle in for monthly maintenance visits, where we re-calibrate the device as needed, and download the recorded information

Ignition Interlock Device Costs

It’s important to know that you are not actually purchasing the device. Rather, you are leasing it. In general, installation costs and monthly maintenance costs may run you $75-150 for installation and $80-100 a month for maintenance, depending on where you live. Your costs may be less since this is a voluntary installation. Check with your service location directly to get the exact costs in your area.

You or your college student are responsible for all costs associated with your IID. We will hold you liable for any damage done to the unit as a result of intentional tampering or an attempt to remove the device. Only a certified professional should remove the device. Since you are not mandated to have the IID installed, you can schedule removal at any time.

Schedule Ignition Interlock Device Installation

If you’re ready to get an IID installed on your college student’s vehicle, or on your own vehicle, all you need to do to get started is call one of our service locations directly, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300. If this is a voluntary installation, you don’t need any paperwork from the courts or the state. We will ask you a few questions and share some information before getting you on the schedule. We look forward to working with you to help keep your child safe.

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