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The ins and outs of ignition interlock devices

An ignition interlock device is a product that measures a driver's blood alcohol content and can prevent a vehicle from starting.
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    December 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The ins and outs of ignition interlock devices

Many people in California may have heard references to something called an ignition interlock device and know that it is somehow related to a DUI penalty, but do not know much more than that. California's DUI laws and consequences can be complex and confusing and it is important to understand what one may experience when facing a DUI arrest and potential conviction.

What exactly is an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device is a product that measures a driver's blood alcohol content, similar to a breathalyzer, and either allows a vehicle's ignition to be started or prevents it from being able to be started. The portion that drivers blow into is roughly the size of a cell phone.

A microchip is connected electronically to the vehicle's ignition to record the results of the tests. The acceptable BAC is determined by the court and programmed into the device during installation. The device also includes the functionality to send results to the court or other department that ordered the installation.

How does it work?

Upon getting in the car, a driver turns the ignition to the on position and blows into the ignition interlock device. If the BAC is measured to be below the level designated, a signal is sent to the ignition allowing it to be started. If the BAC is higher than the pre-set level, the ignition is disengaged for a period of time and the driver is then allowed to take a retest.

Once the car is allowed to start, the device is programmed to initiate further tests at designated intervals. These are called rolling retests and the first one typically happens within 15 minutes of startup with subsequent tests occurring at random intervals roughly every 45 minutes. When a driver receives an alert than a rolling retest is to take place, he or she has 6 minutes to take the test. Given that no eye contact with the device is needed, this can be done while driving but drivers are also given time to pull over if they prefer.

If the BAC from a rolling retest is found to be higher than the acceptable limit, the driver is indicated that he or she should stop the car. If they do not, the horn may sound and headlights may flash until the car is stopped or until a test is passed.

Who must install an ignition interlock device?

California law allows courts to order the installation of IIDs for any driver convicted of a DUI. Tulare, Alameda, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties are the locations of a pilot program requiring installation of these devices as follows:
-For a first DUI, the IID must be used between 5 and 12 months.
-For a second DUI, the IID must be used between 12 and 24 months.
-For a third DUI, the IID must be used between 24 and 36 months.
-For a fourth DUI, the IID must be used between 36 and 48 months.

Whether or not the conviction was for the DUI only or for other offenses will affect the length of time the ignition interlock device is ordered for. Additionally, every DUI defense is unique and working with a qualified attorney can give drivers the best chance for a lesser sentence or set of penalties and is always recommended in such cases.

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