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Ignition Interlock Devices

In California, a judge can order someone convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. The purpose of the IID is to prevent impaired drivers from operating their vehicles. IIDs are mandatory in California DUI convictions in four counties, including Alameda County. However, starting January 1, 2019, all California DUI convictions will require an IID.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) acts like a breathalyzer to start up the car. The IID is installed on the car's steering column. The car will only start after the driver breathes into the device without registering the limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the driver does not blow an alcohol-free breath into the device, the car will not start.

After the car is started, to continue driving the IID will require “rolling” samples every 5 to 15 minutes, and then about every 45 minutes. After the IID prompts these additional samples, the driver has six minutes to blow a clean breath into the device, or the failure will be reported to the court. The six-minute time frame is intended to allow the driver enough time to blow into the device, or if necessary, pull the car over to register a breath.

What DUI violations require an ignition interlock?

In Alameda County, if you are convicted of a DUI by the criminal court, an IID will be required to be installed in each vehicle you own. This includes violations of Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152, Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Driving under the influence causing injury may also require an IID restriction.

In Contra Costa County and other counties, the IID may not be automatic, but the court may require IID installation and use. However, beginning January 1, 2019, the mandatory IID program for drunk driving violations goes statewide.

Governor Jerry Brown signed SB-1046 into law in 2016. The law will require most people convicted of drunk driving to install ignition interlock devices beginning in 2019.

How long do I have to have an ignition interlock device after a DUI?

The amount of time required to maintain an IID may depend on the number of previous DUI violations. After January 1, 2019, a non-injury DUI may have the option of an IID for 6-months with full driving privileges, or a one-year restricted license that limits your driving to work, school, for medical appointments, and DUI treatment programs.

A first DUI offense involving injury will require an IID for 6 months. A second DUI offense can require an IID for one year, a third DUI requires a 2-year IID restriction, and a fourth DUI can require an IID for three years.

An IID allows individuals to get a restricted driver's license without having to serve a suspension period after a DUI if they meet the eligibility requirements.

How does the ignition interlock device work?

The IID is installed in the vehicle, and connected to the ignition system. When starting the vehicle the driver will blow into a handheld alcohol sensor. If the fuel cell in the BAC is over a preset limit the car will not start. If the BAC is below that limit, the car will start, and continue to ask for “rolling” tests throughout the driving period. If a “rolling” test fails the BAC, the car will continue to run, but register and record a fail. The device also records any attempt to tamper with or disable the device.

Can you cheat the ignition interlock device?

The IID is designed to be used only with the driver of the vehicle. For this reason, the breath device is short to prevent another passenger from using their breath, “rolling” breaths are required, and there are penalties for failing to abide by the court's orders. Additionally, any tampering with the device will be recorded and reported to the court.

Upon notice that an individual has attempted to remove, bypass, or tamper with the ignition interlock device, the DMV will immediately reinstate the suspension of the individual's driving privileges.

Can the ignition interlock device register false positives?

Some foods or drinks may misrepresent the BAC test of the driver. Using mouthwash with an alcohol base may prevent the car from starting. Some combinations of food or cigarette smoke may prevent the device from registering a correct BAC level.

Additionally, if another person records an above-the-limit breath on the IID, the individual who had the required IID will be responsible for any positive BAC reports recorded on the device.

Who has to pay for the ignition interlock device?

The person convicted of the DUI will have to pay for the installation of the IID, and the costs of the IID. Installation may cost up to about $150, and monthly costs of approximately $2.50 per day. The individual may have to pay for the installation and cost of multiple devices if they own or drive more than one vehicle. 

Additionally, the individual is required to pay for the regular maintenance and calibration of the device. Drivers are required to have the device serviced and calibrated at least once every 60 days.

Low-income individuals with a DUI conviction may be able to apply for a program to defer some of the costs of an IID. At a minimum, an individual with an income at or below the federal poverty level is responsible for paying 10% of the IID program costs.

Experienced DUI Attorney Representation:

Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands the penalties involved with all DUI charges, including requiring an ignition interlock device. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, keeping her clients out of jail and driving on the road. Lynn Gorelick understands you don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact Gorelick Law Offices today.

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