An ignition interlock device (IID) can prevent someone from starting a car if that person has been drinking. The driver must blow into the device, and if the device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start.
Starting this year (2019), as one part of the sentence for a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, most convicted DUI offenders in California must have an ignition interlock device installed in their personal vehicles – and at their own expense. But, can an Orange County DUI defense attorney help?
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions – and the answers – about ignition interlock devices.
FAQ #1: WHAT ARE IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES (IIDs)?
A: Ignition interlock devices are breathalyzer devices – about the size of a cell phone – that prevent anyone who is under the influence of alcohol from starting a vehicle. An ignition interlock device requires several breath tests whenever someone drives an IID-equipped vehicle.
The driver’s breath is tested to start the vehicle. A second test is required about 5 to 15 minutes later. More breath tests are then required at approximately 45-minute intervals for as long as the vehicle is being driven.
FAQ #2: WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF IIDs IN CALIFORNIA?
A: In 2010, California established a “pilot” IID installation program for convicted DUI offenders in four counties to determine if IIDs are effective in the battle against DUI. In 2017, lawmakers acted to expand the pilot program statewide beginning this year and running through 2026.
FAQ #3: WHAT DOES THE NEW LAW REQUIRE?
A: The law requires repeat DUI offenders and first DUI offenders who cause an injury to install an IID in their personal vehicles for 12 to 48 months. The law also allows drivers with licenses suspended administratively by the California DMV to obtain an IID-restricted driving privilege.
At the judge’s discretion, first-time DUI offenders who are not involved with causing an injury may or may not be ordered to install an ignition interlock device.
These provisions only apply to driving under the influence cases involving alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol – and not to DUI or DUID cases involving drugs only.
FAQ #4: WHAT HAPPENS IF A COURT ORDERS YOU TO INSTALL AN IID?
A: When a California court orders the use of an ignition interlock device, that device must be attached to the vehicle’s ignition only by an authorized IID installer, and proof of the installation must then be presented to the court.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will then update that driver’s record so that law enforcement officers will know about the driver’s IID requirement if they stop that driver in traffic.
Failure to install an ignition interlock device after a court order can result in the loss of driving privileges until proof of installation is presented to the court.
FAQ #5: ARE IIDs EFFECTIVE?
A: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that IID devices are effective and accurate over 90 percent of the time. IIDs must satisfy both NHTSA requirements and California state requirements. If a driver cheats, he or she can face serious legal penalties.
FAQ #6: CAN IIDs PREVENT SUBSEQUENT DUI ARRESTS AND CONVICTIONS?
A: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that over half of the motorists in this country whose licenses have been suspended are continuing to drive. IIDs can substantially reduce that percentage.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control reported a 67 percent decline in repeat driving under the influence offenses among drivers who are ordered to install ignition interlock devices.
FAQ #7: IS THERE ANY WAY THAT A DRIVER CAN “TRICK” AN IID?
A: An IID requires an initial breath test to start a vehicle as well as “rolling” breath tests while driving. Any breath that tests positive for alcohol will be recorded. Attempts to bypass or tamper with the IID are also recorded – such as using another person’s breath or air from a balloon.
If an IID indicates any attempt to bypass, tamper with, or uninstall the device, the motorist’s driver’s license suspension will be reinstated immediately, and additional penalties may be imposed by the court.
FAQ #8: WHAT IS THE COST OF AN IID?
A: You’ll pay approximately $75 to $150 for the initial ignition interlock device installation. Calibration, maintenance, and testing of the device are required about every 60 days, and you’ll pay a fee for that as well.
IIDs aren’t convenient. If you’re ordered to install one, you’ll find that it is both aggravating and expensive. Some IID providers will install the device for free, but those providers charge more for maintenance and calibration. The DMV also requires a $45 “administrative service fee.”
Motorists who cannot afford the cost of an ignition interlock device may be able to obtain some financial assistance from the state, but they will be expected to pay for at least a portion of the cost. After a judge orders an ignition interlock device installation, exemptions are rarely granted.
FAQ #9: WHAT ARE THE OTHER PENALTIES FOR A DUI CONVICTION?
A: For adult drivers with standard driver’s licenses, along with the possible court-ordered installation of an ignition interlock device, the sentence for a misdemeanor, first-offense, driving under the influence conviction in California may include:
- a fine ranging from $390 to $1,000
- up to six months in jail
- three-to-five years on probation
- participation in alcohol or drug education classes or a treatment program
- a driver’s license suspension distinct from any DMV-ordered license suspension
FAQ #10: HOW CAN YOU AVOID DUI TROUBLE – AND INSTALLING AN IID?
A: Law enforcement authorities in California offer the following recommendations to help motorists avoid arrests, accidents, and the other predictable results of drinking and driving:
- If you’re going to drink, plan your transportation ahead of time.
- Don’t bring your keys. Leave them at home.
- If you name a designated driver, it must be someone you trust.
- Call a taxi, call a relative or friend, or use a rideshare service if you’re stuck or stranded.
If you are charged with driving under the influence, you must speak at once with an experienced Orange County DUI attorney, and you have the right to fight the charge. When your freedom and future are at risk, obtain the legal help you genuinely need – and do it immediately.