Declaration of Non Ownership in a DUI Case

If you have to install an ignition interlock device as part of a DUI sentence, but you do not own or have access to any vehicles, you can file a declaration of non-ownership with the California DMV. This effectively waives the IID requirement.

Many California DUI convictions come with a requirement that you install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car. This is basically a Breathalyzer machine. In order to start the car, you have to provide a breath sample, and it has to be free of alcohol. IIDs are a required part of every sentence for a second, third or subsequent DUI offense. Optionally, judges can impose the IID requirement on a first-time offender as well.

This presents a problem for convicted DUI drivers who don’t own vehicles. You cannot install an IID in a vehicle you don’t have. But you can get the requirement effectively waived if you submit a document called a declaration of non-ownership.

This document is a simple, one-page form you submit to the DMV following your sentencing. It asks you to list all vehicles that you own or have access to. If you don’t have any, it also has checkboxes to indicate this. You will want to check all three if they apply:

  • You don’t own any vehicles
  • You don’t operate or have access to any vehicles
  • You don’t operate or have access to your employer’s vehicles

If all three of these checkboxes apply to you, you will not be required to install an IID.

What counts as “having access” to a vehicle?

The purpose of IID laws is to stop you from driving any vehicle without providing a breath sample first. That includes vehicles you use even though they aren’t owned in your own name.

All of these situations count as access to a vehicle:

  • Your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend owns a vehicle and you live with them (or they let you use it)
  • Your parents own a vehicle that they let you use
  • You sometimes borrow a vehicle owned by a neighbor or friend

In these circumstances, the state of California expects you to pay to put an IID in the vehicle you use, even if you don’t officially own it. Alternately, you can simply make a point not to use any vehicle. For example, you could simply ask your parents to take their vehicle back and not use it until your DUI sentence is over.

If your name is on the title for a vehicle, however, you must install the IID regardless of your intention to use the car or not.

How do I file a declaration of non-ownership?

You need to file it within 30 days of being ordered to install an IID. This order can come in one of two ways:

  1. If you were sentenced to a DUI that always carried an IID requirement (such as a second offense DUI), the DMV will automatically send you a notice informing you of the IID requirement.
  2. If the judge chose to impose an IID requirement, you may not receive notice outside of your sentencing.

Generally, as soon as you are convicted you should assume you have 30 days to file the declaration. You can get the form from the Superior Court of the county where you were convicted. They will also be able to give you specific instructions for how to file it; ultimately, the information must go to the DMV, but it is often handled by the court first.  

What happens if I file a declaration of non-ownership and drive a car?

Filing the declaration only partially frees you from the IID requirement. It means you don’t have to put the device on any vehicles, but it doesn’t give you the right to drive a car without one. In fact, if you apply for a restricted driver’s license to drive to work during your DUI sentence, the IID requirement will be on the license itself. That means that any law enforcement officer who pulls you over will immediately know that you aren’t supposed to operate a vehicle without an IID. This will be a probation violation—no matter who owns the vehicle—and it can carry jail time and other consequences.

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