According to California state law, ignition interlock devices are required for repeat DUI offenders. Repeat offenders might be ordered to install this device, which is essentially a breathalyzer built into the car’s ignition system. For a driver to successfully start the car, he or she must blow into a mouthpiece that will analyze breath alcohol content. If the individual’s breath is free of alcohol, the car will start. However, not all DUI convictions require an ignition interlock device, though installing it can help restore driving privileges.
Who is Required to Install an Ignition Interlock Device?
As mentioned earlier, California generally only requires repeat DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. However, other counties in the state are beginning a “pilot program” to see what happens if all DUI offenders were ordered to install the device. If you are in any of these counties, you will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device even if it is your first DUI conviction.
The counties participating in this program are:
- Los Angeles County
- Alameda County
- Sacramento County
- Tulare County
If you are not in these counties, you might still be ordered to install an ignition interlock device if:
- This is your second or subsequent DUI conviction within a span of 10 years
- A judge orders it as part of a condition of your probation
If you fail to install the ignition interlock device as ordered, you might be found guilty of a probation violation, which could result in jail time and other penalties. Additionally, you will not be able to get your driver’s license back until you have complied with the order to have the device installed.
How Does it Work?
The ignition interlock device is wired directly into your car’s ignition, as well as other controls of your car, and is designed to be tamper-proof. It functions by requiring breath samples when you make an attempt to start the car or at random intervals while you are driving.
If you attempt to start your car and your breath sample has 0% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), your vehicle will start normally. If any amount of alcohol is detected, however, the car will refuse to start and enter a brief lockout period. During this period, you will not be able to try again. Failing a second time will result in a longer lockout period.
As a failsafe for those who might get a sober friend to start the car, the device also requests breath samples while you are driving. Unlike the initial sample, these subsequent on-the-road samples give you more time. You will hear a chime sound, indicating that another sample is required, allowing you a minute or so to pull over safely to blow into the mouthpiece.
If you fail an on-the-road test, the horn and lights of your car will shut off until you turn off the car yourself. It will not automatically shut off on its own since this could pose an immense danger to the driver and others on the road. This does not mean you are off the hook. The ignition interlock device records data on all tests, which can be checked by the court, and used against you to prove you violated your probation.
Does it Cost?
While the ignition interlock device will surely not be the only cost associated with your DUI conviction, it is likely not the most expensive one. To install it, you will pay:
- About $75 to have it installed by an authorized installer
- A recurring fee of up to $50 to calibrate it, which is required every 60 days
- Up to $55 in DMV fees
If you have more than one vehicle, you will need to pay these fees and have the device on every car you own.
When Can I Stop Using the Ignition Interlock Device?
The sentences for ignition interlock devices can vary depending on your DUI record. Generally, standard sentences are:
- 5 months for a first DUI offense
- 1 year for a second DUI offense
- 2 years for a third DUI offense
- 3 years for all subsequent DUI offenses
Installing the Ignition Interlock Device Means I Can Drive Again, Right?
In California, if you are convicted of a DUI, this usually comes with a mandatory license suspension, though you might be allowed to apply for restricted driving privileges. If granted, you will be given permission to drive for limited reasons, such as commuting to work. In many circumstances, a judge might only allow you to apply for a restricted driving license if you agree to install the device in your car.
If this is your second offense, you might be given the option of serving a one-year suspension, with no exceptions, or installing the ignition interlock. If you choose the latter of these options, you will be able to restore your license after 90 days and earn the privilege to drive anywhere, instead of just to work.
Contact an Aggressive Sonoma County Ignition Interlock Device Attorney Today!
Being arrested for a DUI can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. People often assume field sobriety tests and breath or blood tests will result in automatic convictions, but there are actually a number of effective ways to challenge these charges.
At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, we will work hard to make sure that your charges do not negatively impact your driving privileges and future. With more than 10 years of experience in criminal law and thousands of criminal cases handled, you can be confident in our ability to effectively represent you.
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