Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are among the most infamous DUI penalties. You may be ordered to install one based on your previous DUI record and what county you’re in. The device is basically a “breathalyzer” built into your car’s ignition system.
To start the car, you have to blow into a mouthpiece that analyzes your breath’s alcohol content. If your breath is free of alcohol, the car will start.
Not all DUI convictions will require an interlock device, but it’s increasingly common. In some cases, installing the device can also help you get some driving privileges back.
How do I Know If I Will Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device?
Under California state law, IIDs are only required for repeat DUI offenders. However, several counties are now part of a “pilot program” to test what happens if all DUI offenders must use IIDs. In these counties, you will be ordered to install an IID on your car even on a first-time DUI conviction:
- Los Angeles County
- Alameda County
- Sacramento County
- Tulare County
Outside of these counties, you could still end up being ordered to use an IID if either:
- This is your second, third, or subsequent DUI conviction in 10 years, or
- The judge decides to order an IID as a condition of your probation
If you are ordered to install an IID, and you do not, you could be found guilty of a probation violation. This means you may end up serving time in jail or facing other penalties. Similarly, you cannot get your driver’s license back until you have complied with the order to install an IID.
Is Installing an IID a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
It depends. On the one hand, installing an interlock device is expensive, and driving with one in the car can be frustrating. In this regard, it’s a criminal penalty, and it is not pleasant to comply with.
On the other hand, getting an IID can help you regain your driving privileges, making the consequences of a DUI much easier to live with. If you drive on a daily basis, an IID can be a good choice, even if your sentence does not require it.
How does the Ignition Interlock Device Work?
The device is wired directly into your ignition and other controls of your car. It is designed to be tamper-proof. Once installed, there are two different times when it will require breath samples:
- Anytime you try to start the car
- At random intervals while you are driving
If you try to start the car and your breath sample has a 0% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the car will start normally. If you have any measurable amount of alcohol in your breath, however (0.01% BAC or above), it will refuse to start, and the car will enter a short “lockout” period where you cannot try again. If you fail a second breath test, the lockout period will be longer.
Providing Samples While Driving
The device may also request samples while you’re driving. This is so that you cannot have a sober friend start your car and then drive away intoxicated.
The on-the-road samples give you more time, however. A chime will sound, or you will get another indication that a breath sample is needed, and you will then have a minute or so to pull over safely before you blow into the mouthpiece.
What If You Fail the Tests?
If you fail these “on the road” tests, your car will not shut off because this would be unsafe. However, the horn and lights of your car will go off until you turn off the car yourself.
The IID records data on all tests. The court can check this data; it can be used to prove that you have violated your probation.
Will You Need a Camera on Your IID in California?
In some cases, a judge may order that you have a camera or GPS unit linked to the IID. This is not always the case, but when it is, it can be frustrating. If required, a camera would take random pictures of you operating the vehicle, which could provide a judge with more information about what you are doing while driving.
A GPS unit helps to track where you are and the speed at which you are traveling.
What does It Cost to Install an Interlock Device?
An IID is far from the most expensive part of a DUI conviction, but it’s not free. You will pay:
- At least $75 to have the device installed by an authorized installer
- A recurring fee of up to $50 to calibrate the device, which is required every 60 days
- Up to $55 in DMV fees
This is the cost for one car. You have to install an IID on every vehicle you own.
How Long Before I Can Stop Using the Ignition Interlock?
The standard IID sentences are:
- 5 months for a first-time DUI
- 1 year for a second time DUI
- 2 years for a third time DUI
- 3 years for a fourth or subsequent DUI
If I Install an Ignition Interlock Device, Am I Allowed to Drive Again?
Under many circumstances, yes. In California, all DUI convictions come with a mandatory license suspension. However, you may be allowed to apply for restricted driving privileges, which gives you permission to drive for certain purposes only (such as to go to work).
This is where an IID can help substantially. For example:
- The judge may only allow you to apply for a restricted license if you install an IID in your car.
- Alternatively, for a second-time DUI, the judge will give you a choice: either you serve a one-year “hard suspension” (no driving at all, even to work), or you install an IID. If you do, the hard suspension only lasts 90 days. Best of all, once the 90 days are over, you can get your license back to drive anywhere—not just to work.
Talk to a Los Angeles DUI Attorney about your DUI case today.
How Can a DUI Attorney Help You Avoid an IID?
The laws in California are very specific and hard to beat. The first step if you’ve been charged with a DUI, then, is to fight it. When you work with a DUI attorney from our firm, we will help you determine if it is possible to refute evidence and prove that you were not driving under the influence or work to get your case pleaded down.
If you have more than one DUI in your driving history, it is even more important that you have an attorney to fight on your behalf. Doing so could help to make all of the difference in your ability to maintain your license and avoid the need for an IID in the first place.
DUI lawyers often recommend an IID as a way to help you soften the penalties of a conviction and get back on the road as soon as possible. But this is only necessary if you get convicted in the first place. Your best option after any DUI arrest is to talk to a lawyer immediately and fight the charges.
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