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Ignition Interlock Devices (IID): A Harsh Penalty for DUI Convictions

People charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California are often worried about license suspensions, jail time, and steep fines that can be used against them upon conviction. While these are certainly worrisome criminal penalties, many are surprised to discover that the harshest penalty of all is the state’s use of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs.

An ignition interlock device is a small computer component installed next to the ignition switch of a convicted individual’s automobile. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must breathe into the component for analysis. Much like a breathalyzer unit, the IID records the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level within a few seconds. If the BAC result is higher than a preset level – often ranged between 0.02 and 0.08, depending on the circumstances of the DUI conviction – the vehicle cannot be started. Some IID models may even notify the authorities of the infraction.

Not only is an IID extremely limiting and makes it a hassle to drive your vehicle at any time, but it will also cost you dearly. In order to pay for maintenance and collect more tax dollars, California levies a tax against you for possession of the IID. You will be required to pay a fee for each month you have the IID in your vehicle, usually costed around $100 or more. Furthermore, you may be required to pay to have the IID installed and uninstalled in your vehicle.

When an IID is Actually Helpful

Despite the obvious downfalls of having an IID installed in your vehicle, you should not assume that the devices are entirely disadvantageous to you. California law often does not mandate an IID for first-time convictions; usually only multiple DUI or felony DUI cases include an ignition interlock device in sentencing. When someone charged with a first-time DUI is facing overwhelming evidence of their criminal violations, they might be able to voluntarily accept an IID to reduce other penalties, such as shortened jail sentences or minimized license suspensions. Negotiating such a plea deal is a precarious situation, though, and should not be attempted without a criminal defense attorney’s guidance.

The Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. can provide you with unwavering, highly-experienced legal representation from a top-rated Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. We can help you combat your charges altogether, or discuss the option of using a plea deal with an IID, if needed. Start right now by scheduling a free case review with our team by calling (707) 418-5352.