Ignition Interlock Devices

If you are convicted of a drunk driving, DUI, or related charge, you may be subject to a ignition interlock device requirement as part of your sentence. This is an unfortunate reality, and a difficult and inconvenient burden you must deal with as a condition of your driver’s license reinstatement.

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An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a mechanical device, about the size of a cell phone that attaches to your vehicle’s ignition. This system is essentially a “rolling breathalyzer”.  A device, installed in your personal vehicle at your expense and by the order of the court,

Your Breath Alcohol Content must be below a certain threshold (equivalent of BAC) before the system allows your car to start, permitting you to drive.

These devices come from a variety of licensed companies throughout the state, and are installed and maintained at your expense. It is your responsibility, if sanctioned, to choose a company and have the device installed. You also pay the company for the device as sort of a rental fee. The monthly maintenance price varies but is around $2.50 per day.

Will I Need to Get an Ignition Interlock after a DUI Conviction?

There are a few different CA DUI & related offenses that you can be convicted of and that will lead to the court ordering an ignition interlock device. Those include:

First time DUI with BAC over .15% If you are convicted of DUI and your blood alcohol content was greater than .15% the judge will give serious consideration to ordering a device installed in your vehicle.

Driving on Suspension from prior DUI If caught driving on a suspended license and the suspension was a result of a DUI, you may be driving with an ignition interlock device once your license is reinstated.

Any second or subsequent DUI conviction: The period of time you are required to drive with the device is at the discretion of the courts. Your license may also be suspended for some of these offenses, which means that the period of ignition interlock would begin once your license is reinstated.

Ignition interlock devices not only require installation but also routine maintenance. In the state of California, it is your responsibility to have the device installed in your vehicle serviced periodically to ensure it is working properly.

We understand that having a device such as this in your vehicle is a hassle. But for most people convicted of a DUI in CA, it is preferable to the alternative of a full license suspension.

Will I have To Get an IID for a First-Time DUI?

Generally, a first-time DUI won’t result in the mandatory installation of an IID. But, the law does allow it. Knowing your chances of being ordered to have an IID installed is often a matter of consulting with a local defense attorney who knows how the local courts and the DMV handle such issues.

This isn’t true in four test counties who began requiring the devices for first-time offenders in an ignition interlock device pilot program. In Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda, and Tulare Counties, you will be required to have an IID on a first offense. The period of this restriction is generally five months. The program started on July 1, 2010, and is expected to expand across the state in the coming years.

If you do not live within one of these test counties and are under license suspension for your DUI, you may be able to get your license reinstated with an IID restriction. This means you could regain your driving privileges back before the suspension period is over by having an ignition interlock device installed.

How Soon After My Sentencing Can I Elect to Have the IID?

If your driving privileges are suspended for a DUI and you wish to regain those privileges by having an IID installed, this may be an option. A first time DUI is generally eligible for a IID restricted license after 30 days of suspension.  If it is your second time DUI offense, you can get an IID restricted license after an initial 90 days of suspension.

What Happens If I Don’t Get the IID Installed After Being Ordered To?

Failure to have your vehicle equipped with such a device within 30 days of being ordered to do so by the court can result in misdemeanor charges. Likewise, there are several other misdemeanor offenses related to the use and misuse of an IID.

Interlock Related Criminal Misdemeanor Offenses:

  • Having someone else blow into your interlock device so you can start your car,
  • Blowing into someone’s interlock so they can start their car,
  • Tampering, removing, or bypassing an IID,
  • Renting or borrowing a vehicle without telling the other person of your restricted driving privileges,
  • Knowingly renting or lending a vehicle to someone who has been ordered by the court to use an ignition interlock device, or
  • Operate a vehicle without an IID installed in it

All of these are considered misdemeanor offenses and carry a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

Also, if you are ordered by the court to use a vehicle with an ignition interlock device and are found in operation of a vehicle lacking such a device, your license will be suspended or revoked for the remainder of the original term of suspension (in the case of IID restricted licenses).

Ref: CA Vehicle Code Sec. 23247-23249


Ensuring you have the best possible representation in your defense on your day in court improves your chances of avoiding a conviction, and this requirement. Please contac our an experienced DUI attorneys. The best attorneys may increase the likelihood of you getting the charges dropped or the sentence reduced, that may avoid this tough penalty.