An ignition interlock device (IID) is a machine that prevents you from starting your car if you’ve been drinking. It’s a small breathalyzer that is installed in your car. Before you start the car, you must blow into the device. If it senses alcohol on your breath, the car will not start.
California uses IID’s to reduce the number of repeat DUI’s. The theory is that if a convicted drunk driver installs the device on their car, they are less likely to drink and drive again—because the car won’t let them. Not all drunk drivers are required to install one, but many are.
IID’s are not convenient. If you’re ordered to put one on your car, you will find that it’s expensive, frustrating, and hard to explain to others. However, in some cases an IID will allow you to get your driver’s license back sooner.
How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?
An IID is the size of a large cell phone. It must be professionally installed by a licensed IID installer. You will have to get proof that it was installed and give this proof to the DMV.
The IID requires multiple breath tests every time you drive:
- One breath test to start the car.
- A second breath test about 5-15 minutes after you start the car. This may happen while you are driving. This is to prevent you from having a sober friend blow into the device before you drive away.
- Additional, random breath tests once every 45 minutes or so, for as long as you keep driving.
The device will alert you every time it requires a new test. You have about 6 minutes to take the test or it will count as a fail. This gives you time to pull over if needed.
IID’s are designed to be tamper-proof.
The device can sense attempts to tamper with the wiring or remove it. It reports these attempts to the court. Attempts to outsmart the IID result in countless suspended licenses every year.
Installing an IID will not harm your car, and it can be removed once you’re no longer required to have it.
How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device cost in California?
You can expect to pay $75-100 to get an IID installed, plus additional fees every time you need it calibrated. Calibration is required every 60 days.
Alternately, some companies install the IID for free, but charge higher rates for calibration. Either way, you will spend at least $75 between installation and the first recalibration.
But there are other costs too:
- You must install a separate IID on every vehicle you own. The more vehicles you have, the more it will cost.
- You must pay the DMV an “IID Restriction Fee” of $15. There may also be administrative fees of $40.
Who is Required to Install an Interlock Device in California?
There are many circumstances where you may end up installing an ignition interlock device after your DUI. Some of them are required, others are optional. They include:
- You were arrested in the wrong county
If your DUI occurred in Los Angeles county, or Alameda, Sacramento, or Tulare counties, you will be required to get an IID no matter what. This is part of a state “pilot program” to test whether IID’s reduce DUI rates. In those counties, there are no exceptions—all DUI’s require interlock devices.
- The judge orders it
Judges have a wide discretion in how they sentence you. They can order an IID in almost any drunk driving case. If it’s your first DUI the judge may not require one (except in the counties mentioned above). However, a first time DUI defendant who had a blood alcohol level over 0.15% will probably be required to get an IID. The same is true if your DUI injured anyone.
Repeat offenders are much more likely to be required to get an IID.
- The DMV requires it
The DMV can also require an IID. They do this in two cases:
- If your DUI occurred while you were driving on a suspended/revoked license, or didn’t have a license, you will be required to get an interlock device.
- If you apply for restricted driving privileges, and this is your second DUI (or more), you will need an interlock device.
- You want to shorten your license suspension
If this was your second or third DUI, you may be able to shorten your license suspension period by voluntarily installing an IID. This is not an option for first offenders, because the suspension period is already shorter for a first time DUI.
If your DUI involved drugs, you will not qualify for the shortened suspension.
How Long Do I Need an Interlock Device for a California DUI?
If you are required to install an interlock device, it will usually be for a period of:
- 5 months for a first offense, or 1 year if the DUI injured someone
- 1 year for a second offense
- 2 years for a third offense
- 3 years for a fourth or subsequent offense
Getting Your Interlock Device in California
Here is the process for getting an ignition interlock device:
- Choose an IID installer. The DMV offers a list here. If you price shop, think about the long term price (calibration fees) as well as the up front installation cost.
- Verify that the installer is licensed to perform this work. You can look up their license online.
- Pay the installer and have IID’s installed on all your vehicles. This does not apply to motorcycles or employer-owned vehicles.
- Ask the installer for proof. They will give you a Form DL 920 (Verification of Installation form). Confirm that the form lists all the vehicles you brought in, not just one.
- Submit the forms at your local DMV office. If you’re applying for driver’s license reinstatement, or restricted driving privileges, you will also need your Form SR 22 (proof of DUI auto insurance). If you have other license suspensions on your record, you will not be approved until you take care of those too.
The best way to avoid IID’s is to never be convicted of DUI at all. Talk to a DUI lawyer before your case goes any further. We can match you with a lawyer who has the right experience for your case, and get you a FREE consultation on your case. Just fill out the form to the right and get your free consultation today.