Elf on the ShelfIn 2005, a self-published children’s book called Elf on the Shelf took America by storm.  Between cardboard covers, mother/daughter team Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell chronicle the doings of an unnamed Christmas elf employed by parents to inform Santa nightly of the activities of their children during the daytime. The success of the book has sparked a tradition of placing elves on shelves to scrutinize the behavior of a household’s children in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, since reminding children to be on their guard is easier with a pair of plastic blue eyes peering at them constantly. The concept has caught on like wildfire because it reminds relatively unruly beings to do things they should be doing, anyway.

Elves on shelves, better angels, and other policing agents, real and imaginary, have long been wished for—either by people wishing that others were chaperoned or by those wishing to monitor their own behavior. Who has not, at some point, wished for a personal Elf on the Shelf or some facsimile to gently admonish or nudge or slap them when they misbehave? Alas, most of us are forced to keep tabs on ourselves without help when it comes to most day-to-day activities.


For those found guilty of drunk driving, this coveted dream may become a reality, thanks to ignition interlock devices. An ignition interlock device, once installed “prevent[s the driver] from starting a car’s engine if their breath tests positive for alcohol.”  In 17 states, these devices are required to be installed in the vehicles of convicted drunken drivers—a measure the National Transportation Safety Board estimates saves 7,000 lives annually.  In addition, the interlock device records information about blood alcohol concentration, attempts to start the vehicle without testing or to disconnect the device, etc.  Succinctly, they do what an Elf on the Shelf only wishes it could.

That ignition interlock devices prevent accidents and injury is cause enough to love them.  Here are more reasons:

1. They’re cost-effective.

Some penalties for drunk driving include fines, community service, classes, and hiked insurance premiums.  An ignition interlock device, by contrast, costs comparatively little to purchase and install—and it won’t be a drain on the battery.  Juxtaposed with other methods of drunk driving prevention, ignition interlock devices are very inexpensive.

2. They’re uncomplicated.

Ignition interlock devices take on drunk driving in a very direct way.  They don’t interfere with the operation of the motor vehicle, and they are easy to work with.  While there are certain products like hair spray and aftershave that can set them off, the devices are, overall, fairly predictable and straightforward.

3. They’re tamperproof.

Hairspray/aftershave-related complications notwithstanding, the device is quite accurate in determining BAC and preventing drunk driving.  If the driver’s BAC is too high, the engine will not start:  It’s just that simple.  Because all attempts to drive without testing or in spite of a positive result for intoxication are recorded, violations or attempted violations will not go undetected.  One could hardly hope for a better way to strike at the root of the problem.

4. They’re effective.

When properly installed and implemented, ignition interlock devices have been found effective in decreasing recidivism among drunk drivers.  The results of a study conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles showed that second-offense drunk drivers installing ignition interlock devices ran a 41% lower risk of subsequent violations.  In terms of actually putting a stop to the problem behavior, the devices work splendidly.

5. They’re unobtrusive.

The great thing about ignition interlock devices is that they manage to accomplish what they do without being degrading.  About the size of a cell phone, they don’t stand out or brand the driver whose behavior is being monitored.  This promotes improvement without shame.

Given the huge risks assumed by drunk driving, and with so many ways to prevent it, there is no reason to excuse the behavior when it does take place.  Those seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident have every right to expect the fullest possible recovery.  To contact auto accident attorneys in the Salt Lake City area, call Christensen & Hymas at (801) 506-0800 to discuss whether legal counsel is right for you.

Image by: carrietayloe