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I was charged with drunk driving. Will I need an ignition interlock device?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense Articles |

States throughout the country require the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for certain drunk driving offenses. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes that this is one of few proven forms of intervention for drunk driving offenses. The group points to varies studies that show use of these devices can reduce the rate of repeat offenses by up to 70%.

Although a reduction in drunk driving is a good thing it is important that lawmakers and those who enforce these laws do so within our rights. Forced use of this intrusive device is only beneficial when done within the bounds of the law. There are known drawbacks, including the burden of the cost of the device which is generally the responsibility of the driver. Drivers can help to protect their rights by having a basic understanding of the laws that guide use of these devices.

What is an IID?

IIDs are devices installed within the vehicle that require a breath sample from the driver before the engine will start. The device measures the breath sample for alcohol content. If the device determines the sample is over a set amount it will not allow the engine to start.

When does the law require an ignition interlock device?

The rules vary by state. In Colorado state law generally requires those who were arrested for a DUI get an IID in various situations. Examples can include:

  • DUI per se. This generally involves a conviction for drunk driving where the blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08.
  • Refusal of chemical testing. The state may require use of an IID for those who refuse to take a chemical test.
  • Other DUI convictions. Other offenses can also qualify, including those who the state considers habitual offenders.

These are just a few examples. An attorney experienced in this area of law can discuss whether a specific charge may lead to a conviction with a required use of an IID.

What else should I know?

Unfortunately, these devices are not a one and done deal. The law requires continual servicing, generally set at once every sixty days. A failure to show up for a servicing appointment can result in additional penalties. This could include a license suspension until you bring the vehicle in to service the device.

It is also important to note that these laws are evolving. Although the information in this piece applies at the time of writing, it can change. The NCSL is pushing for additional changes, including a requirement all drivers convicted of a DUI install an IID. In a recent and more local example, Colorado lawmakers changed the details for when drivers can apply to get a required ignition interlock restricted license. In the past, the individual needed to way 30 days with a suspended license before they could apply. The new law removes this requirement and allows the driver to apply for the restricted license immediately after the conviction.

What happens if I do not use a required ignition interlock device?

If required and not in use or if the state believes that you are circumventing the proper function of an ignition interlock device, you can face additional penalties including a license revocation.