What is An Ignition Interlock Device? (And why are they important in New York)

If you haven’t been arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated) or are not familiar with DUI laws, you probably have no idea what an ignition interlock device is. This small tool is a requirement for drivers who violated drunk driving laws throughout the United States. In fact, each state has an interlock installation program.

Ignition interlock devices (IID) have been around for years. California was the first to use the device when it established a pilot program following the Farr-Davis Safety Act of 1986. Today, the IID is an essential tool for discouraging recidivism and minimizing the number of repeat offenders.

If you or someone you know has recently been convicted of drunk driving, here are some vital facts about ignition interlock devices.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device? How Does It Work?

An ignition interlock device is a compact breathalyzer installed into your car. It is about the same size as a regular TV remote control or mobile phone. DWI / DUI convicted drivers are required to breathe or blow into the device first before their vehicle can start. The device will measure the drivers’ BrAC or breath alcohol content. If the alcohol level is over the state limit, the drivers won’t be able to use their car. It won’t start. As such, drivers have to be alcohol-free before they can drive.

The device does running, random, or rolling retests throughout the trip. These repeat breath analysis tests assure that drivers remain alcohol-free while they are on the road and driving. They have to pull over and park on the side of the road to administer the retest. They will know when it’s time for the repeat test because the IID will beep.

An ignition interlock device breath test is required for any driver, even if they are not the car owner.

Some states require drivers to install a camera aside from the interlock device. In case somebody other than the owner drives the car while intoxicated, the camera will record the violation.

Disconnecting or removing an interlock device is prohibited as it can damage the car.

Who Needs an Ignition Interlock Device?

IIDs are mandatory for DWI offenders in New York State who are convicted of DWI. They may also be necessary for driver’s in New York who have multiple DWI convictions as a prerequisite to getting a driver’s license back after a revocation.  In some states, but not New York, the device is also a requirement for first-time DUI offenders who recorded a BAC higher than .15%. Likewise, first-time drunk driving violators whose recklessness caused injury to another party are also mandated to install an ignition interlock device.

In some states, but not New York, installation of IIDs in vehicles owned or driven by hardship license holders is mandatory. A hardship license is a restricted license provided to an individual with limited driving privileges. Using the license, he or she can drive to and from work or school for the suspension duration.

How Long Should a Driver Use IID?

Each state has laws that indicate the length or period a driver has to use the ignition interlock device. In most cases, the duration depends on the severity of the drunk driving offense. So, a first-time DUI offender typically gets an IID requirement for six months, while a repeat offender may be required to use the breathalyzer for years.

How Much Does an IID Cost?

Ignition interlock device installation cost is divided into three fees: installation, monthly, and removal.

  • Installation fees vary from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $150. Rates are dependent on the type of vehicle you have and where you had the device installed.
  • Monthly fees include maintenance, monitoring, and lease expenses. The cost is anywhere from $50 to $150 a month.
  • Removal fees also have the same rates as the installation and monthly fees – $50 to $150.

Some interlock device providers often offer discounts and affordable payment schemes. Additionally, several states have financial assistance programs for those who cannot afford the costs, including indigent drivers.

To understand other legal details about ignition interlock device requirements, get in touch with an experience New York DWI lawyer.

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