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Nicholas W.

William R.

Criminal Defense Experience - 40+ Years

The ins and outs, dos and don’ts of an ignition interlock device

DUI convictions and DMV administrative license actions affect your ability to legally drive a vehicle in California. State law provides for a wide variety of possible punishments and requirements for those who are arrested and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

One of the most common requirements or punishments is the installation of an ignition interlock device, or IID for a period of time on any vehicle you drive. These cell phone-sized gadgets are wired to your vehicle’s ignition.

Getting an ignition interlock device installed

If a court or the DMV has ordered you to have an IID installed, you’ll have to contact a certified installer. Note: you’ll be required to pay the full cost of both installation and monthly maintenance, though some low-income drivers can be eligible for reduced fees.

After the IID is installed, you can take your DL 920 form to a DMV office and apply for an IID-restricted driver’s license.

Submitting a breath sample

After installation, you must blow into the IID before you can start and drive your vehicle. If it detects alcohol in your breath sample, it prevents your engine from starting.

When a sample has been accepted and you’ve started driving, the IID will periodically require you to submit additional breath samples to ensure that your breath is still free of alcohol.

The potential for distracted driving danger

Late last year, an investigative report in the New York Times found that these “rolling tests” required by ignition interlocks pose real dangers not only to the drivers submitting breath samples but to other motorists as well.

As the name of the rolling tests indicates, many drivers perform the tests while they’re driving. Unfortunately, the tests distract drivers who should be paying attention to other vehicles and traffic signals. The rolling-test distractions have resulted in a number of motor vehicle crashes, including wrecks with serious injuries and fatalities.

IID rules must be followed

Once the IID is installed and paperwork approved, you’ll be required to take the device in to have it calibrated and inspected at regular intervals (not to exceed 60 days). The installer will then verify that the IID is working and that there have not been any violations logged.

The DMV is clear that if you try to bypass, remove or tamper with the IID, your driving privileges can be suspended or revoked. The state agency can also suspend or revoke your license if you fail to get the IID serviced within 60 days.

Of course, a first-offense DUI conviction or DMV administrative action can result in a number of other punishments or requirements in addition to the IID, including probation, DUI classes, fines, penalties and even jail time. A conviction can also have indirect consequences such as higher car insurance rates and a negative impact on employment and future career opportunities.

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