Life with an ignition interlock device

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California residents who must use ignition interlock devices should understand the impact on their everyday lives.

Among the many penalties that a person who has been convicted of drunk driving offenses in California may face is the required use of an ignition interlock device. The National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that even a first-time DUI offense can result in an order to install and use an IID. A driver's blood alcohol content, driving record and compliance with chemical testing may impact whether or not an IID is required.

Most people have heard that drivers with ignition interlock devices must take breath tests every time they want to start their vehicles. That is true. However, this is far from the only way in which IIDs affect drivers' lives.

What happens when my car needs service?

An ignition interlock device requires a successful breath test in order to allow an ignition to be started-every time. This is the case regardless of where a vehicle is or who is operating it. Intoxalock, an IID manufacturer, explains that even mechanics or other service providers must blow into devices and pass tests any time that they need to start the engine.

Do I need to allow extra time before trips?

Some people may need to adjust their schedules to accommodate for the need to take breath tests before starting their vehicles. People who commonly brush their teeth as the last thing they do in the morning before leaving for work, for example, will not be able to do so. That is because many toothpaste, mouthwash or mouth rinse products contain alcohol.

Another IID manufacturer, SmartStart, explains that a breath test taken immediately after using these products could return a breath alcohol reading as high as 0.25 percent. For this reason, waiting at least 15 minutes after brushing teeth or rinsing with mouthwash is recommended.

Similarly, many foods can cause an ignition interlock device to record the presence of alcohol. Spicy foods or sweet pastries are examples. Methane can be released when certain spices mix with gastric acids. When some sweet items are metabolized, the yeast and sugars may release a low level of alcohol.

Can I eat or drink non-alcoholic beverages while driving?

Because many substances can register as alcohol, it is best for people to refrain from consuming anything other than water while driving. This is because IIDs will request rolling retests at random times while vehicles are in operation. If a driver eats or drinks something and then is prompted for a retest a few minutes later, the test may be failed. You must follow all instructions given with the IID to avoid any issues.

Where can I learn more about DUI penalties?

It is always advisable to see an attorney after a DUI arrest for a realistic appraisal of your case. This would include possible defenses, resolutions and penalties that could be imposed in your jurisdiction, including the possibility of an IID.

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