A breath alcohol ignition interlock is a device that is installed in the dashboard of a person’s vehicle who has been required by the courts to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle as a condition of having their license reinstated in order to drive. You will also be required by the DMV to provide proof of SR22 insurance coverage before they will reinstate your driver's license.
The breath alcohol ignition interlock device is connected to a vehicles starter system. The ignition interlock device can be setup to register a failed reading anywhere from .00% BAC to slightly higher levels, but typically not above .04% BAC.
The breath alcohol ignition interlock device works by measuring the BAC or blood alcohol concentration also referred to as BAL or blood alcohol level of the vehicle’s driver before and during the operation of said vehicle.
If the blood alcohol concentration registered by the ignition interlock system is higher than the preprogrammed level that was set by the company that installed the ignition interlock device, the vehicle will not start. The courts in each state determine the programmed level that will be set by the company performing the installation. Typically this level will be between .02% and .04% depending on the state law.
Also at preprogrammed intervals while the vehicle is in operation, the breath alcohol ignition interlock device will require breath samples from the vehicle operator in order for the vehicle to continue operating. If a breath sample is not provided, or the sample that is registered by the ignition interlock device exceeds the limit that has been preset by the ignition interlock provider, the unit will record the occurrence, warn the driver and then start its alarm, which will consist of the lights flashing, horn honking, etc. before shutting down.
The vehicle operator will be required to blow into the ignition interlock device in order to start their vehicle because the vehicle will not start without first providing a breath sample. Then typically after 10 to 15 minutes of running, the device will request another breath sample. Then a breath sample will be required approximately every 15 to 30 minutes afterwards. The reason for the frequent testing is to prevent a person from having a friend start their vehicle and then allowing the impaired driver to take over vehicle operation.
When it is time for a breath sample, the ignition interlock system will let the driver know that a sample is required. The ignition interlock system will allow enough time for the driver to safely pull to the side of the road before the sample must be given.
An ignition interlock device has its proponents and opponents. Groups like MADD support the use of an ignition interlock device saying that the use of an ignition interlock device has proven to be up to 90% effective in the prevention of drunk driving.
While opponents of ignition interlock devices say that test results show the devices have numerous flaws and are not effective in reducing DUI or drunk driving incidents for first-time offenders.
One major flaw of an ignition interlock device is that items such as mouthwash can cause a vehicle not to start. Imagine you’re ready to leave for work in the morning and go out to start your vehicle, but it won’t start because it registered a BAC above the preset limit. What could cause a situation like this? Mouthwashes that most people use in the morning contain alcohol.
An ignition interlock device was originally implemented to prevent those who were considered hardcore alcoholics from drinking and driving after having been convicted of a DUI. Current proposals would mandate ignition interlock devices for all offenders in every state, in essence treating the person who was barely over the legal limit the same as the individual who had a blood alcohol concentration of .16% or twice the legal limit.
The breath alcohol ignition interlock device keeps a record of the device's activity and the interlocked vehicles electrical system. This data will be downloaded each time the vehicle is taken in to be calibrated, which is typically set to 30, 60 or 90-day intervals.
If a violation is detected between service intervals, the vehicle must be taken to the ignition interlock service provider to be reset. When this happens a record of the violation will be sent to the offender’s probation officer. Depending on state laws a separate offense like this can be considered a violation of the terms of the offender’s probation, which can result in additional sanctions being imposed such as the offender’s probation being revoked.
The overall cost of installation, calibration and scheduled maintenance is the responsibility of the offender. An ignition interlock device will cost around $75 per month and a couple hundred dollars to be installed. Some states have programs that will subsidize the monthly cost if the offender can prove that they do not have the financial means to pay the monthly charges. But the main goal for every state is that their ignition interlock program is self sustaining since the DUI offender is required to pay the fees.
An ignition interlock device is mandatory for all offenders in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Louisiana and Illinois.
An ignition interlock device is mandatory for all offenders who reinstate their license in the state of Oregon.
An ignition interlock device is mandatory for all high BAC and repeat offenders in the following states: Hawaii, Florida, Kansas, Virginia, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
An ignition interlock device is required for certain offenders in the following states: California, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland.
A ignition interlock device is allowed, but not required in the following states: Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.
The following states do not currently have ignition interlock laws: Alabama, South Dakota, Maine and Vermont.
Upon conviction, the court will provide you with a list of ignition interlock providers who have been approved by the state. The provider that you choose to do the installation will also be the service provider for the maintenance and calibration of the ignition interlock device. Your DUI lawyer will more than likely know who offers the best service and has the most affordable prices in your county.