Whether you are a “helicopter parent,” or genuinely concerned about what your teen driver (and friends) are doing in your car, you may have wondered if a car breathalyzer or ignition interlock is an option. Despite your teen’s claims that you’re the worst parent ever, you’re really not alone. The statistics about teen drivers and alcohol use are scary, and many parents are looking at these devices as a way to monitor their children, while still allowing them the independence they deserve.
A car breathalyzer typically becomes a routine part of driving for two reasons: a voluntary installation or a court-ordered installation after a DUI or drunk driving incident. Obviously, the voluntary car breathalyzer installation will eliminate a DUI and the court requirement, and most importantly, it will keep your teen driver safe. Even if they are responsible enough to ask a friend to drive the home if they’ve been drinking, you’ll be assured that anyone who starts and operates your vehicle will be sober while doing so.
If you have already had an experience with your teenager drinking alcohol and/or drinking and driving, a voluntary car breathalyzer installation may be too late. Many states treat underage DUI convictions the same way they treat adults who drink and drive. That means that despite your best efforts, your teenager may be ordered to install a car breathalyzer on your car, wrangling you into the breath testing process if you ever need to drive.
Even with the scary statistics and the even scarier reality of drinking and driving, you are the best judge of what is right for your teenager. Plenty of parents make “safety contracts” with their teenagers instead of installing a car breathalyzer. Others may opt for a car breathalyzer and a “disguise” for the handset, as a sort of compromise. Whatever you may decide, your absolute concern for your teen and others on the road makes you a great parent.