One potential penalty of being convicted of driving under the influence in California is the requirement of the offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle. This device is basically a breath test device that is hardwired to a vehicle’s ignition. In order to start the car, the driver must blow into the device, which will analyze the driver’s breath alcohol content, and, if the breath passes, the device will allow the driver to start the car.

If the breath fails, the driver is blocked from starting the car by the device. While an interlock device is installed, the driver may periodically be required to provide a breath sample while the engine is running. The device will give drivers a few minutes to pull over if they can’t safely provide a sample while a vehicle is in motion. If alcohol is detected while driving, the event is recorded and the device may be set to initiate the vehicle’s alarm system until the vehicle is turned off or a passing breath sample is provided.

An ignition interlock will not automatically shut off a vehicle if a failing breath sample is provided on the road.

Preventing Fraud

To limit attempts to defraud an interlock device, California law makes it illegal to ask another person to provide an interlock device sample, and modern machines are designed to require a specific breath pattern from the person assigned to use the system. Modern interlock devices also record any attempts to tamper with or disconnect the device, all engine start ups, and all breath test results. Probation / parole officers have free access to these records and may use them as evidence to support the revocation of probation or parole.

When an Interlock Device is Installed

California law allows judges the discretion to order a person convicted of any DUI offense to have an interlock device installed on his or her car. Even individuals who are found guilty of certain suspended license violations that stem from a DUI conviction may be ordered to install an interlock system. The amount of time that a person must wait before uninstalling the device will depend on the severity of the crime.

Living with an Interlock Device

Being ordered by a court to install an ignition interlock device, or being seen by friends and family blowing into the device in order to start up a car, can be pretty embarrassing, but it isn’t the end of the world. If a person convicted of DUI is able to satisfactorily complete all the terms of his or her sentence, then the device can be removed, and the person can enjoy driving like normal. Considering the alternative of not being able to drive at all, having to install an interlock device, given the circumstances, is not so bad.

If they have more questions about ignition interlock systems and California DUI law, anyone who has been accused of or is facing DUI charges in California should speak with a DUI defense attorney for more guidance.