Click Here to Schedule Your Free Consultation

Driving under the influence (DUI) is an unfortunately common crime that can result in a variety of consequences, ranging from fines and imprisonment to serious bodily harm and even death. To prevent those with a DUI conviction on their record from repeatedly driving drunk, some states require the installation of an “ignition interlock device” in an offender’s vehicle. These tools can prove quite effective at preventing repeated drunk driving, but what are they, how do they work, and how long is someone required to have one in their car? Let’s answer each of these questions, and more, below.

For starters, an ignition interlock device (IID)—sometimes referred to as a “car breathalyzer”—is a small, handheld device that is installed in a motor vehicle to prevent the engine from starting if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds a predetermined limit. The device is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system and requires the driver to blow into its mouthpiece before the car can start. IIDs are intentionally designed to be easy to use and require minimal maintenance, with the driver simply blowing into the device and a cord relaying the BAC to the vehicle’s ignition.

If a driver’s BAC level is too high, the engine will not start, and they won’t be able to drive their car. Additionally, the driver will be required to provide further breath samples over the course of their trip to ensure that they’re maintaining sobriety while driving, not just in the lead-up to starting their car. If a driver fails a retest while driving, their IID will signal them to pull over and stop the car, and (depending on their state) may make the horn honk or lights flash until the car is turned off. Please note, to ensure safety, an IID WILL NOT stop a driver’s car for them.

The device records all breath tests and provides a record of the driver’s compliance to the authorities, and ignition interlock systems are typically required to be present in an offender’s car for a specific period, often ranging from six months to a year post-conviction. However, in some cases, the requirement may be permanent.

With this level of sophistication, it’s no surprise that interlock systems are highly effective in preventing repeat DUIs. Not only do they keep an intoxicated driver’s car from starting in the first place, but just the presence of an IID can serve as a consistent reminder to not repeat the same behavior that got a driver their DUI in the first place.

Benefits to public safety aside, Ignition Interlock Systems also offer a great alternative to the other consequences a person could face when convicted of a DUI. Instead of having their driver’s license suspended (or losing it altogether), they’d only have to deal with the minor inconvenience of providing breath samples while they operate their vehicle. This allows a person to maintain their ability to drive independently, while greatly reducing the chances of drunk driving as detailed above.

All of this combines to make an IID a great option for maintaining public safety, reducing repeat offenses, and minimizing the negative impact a DUI conviction may have on a person’s daily life and routine.

However, if you have been convicted of a DUI or are currently facing a DUI charge, it’s important to understand the requirements for interlock systems in your state and to comply with them to avoid further legal and financial consequences. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your case, you can contact us here to schedule a free consultation with one of JC Law’s experienced attorneys.