Criminal defense attorney Tina M. Barberi, PC

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Tina M. Barberi, PC

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Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition Interlock Requirements in 2019

In 2010, California enacted a four-county pilot program where all first-time DUI offenders that were convicted of a DUI were required to install an IID in their vehicles. Starting January 1, 2019, in all counties, anyone convicted of a DUI will be required to install an IID.  Although “the IID pilot program was not associated with a reduction in the number of first-time and repeat DUI convictions in the pilot counties”, the State has enacted SB-1046 and depending on the conviction may mean a DUI conviction just got more expensive.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device that is installed in your vehicle’s steering column. The IID is a handheld breathalyzer unit that has a mouthpiece, a relay cord that connects to the vehicle, and may contain a camera unit.  There are numerous different devices and vary in shapes and sizes.

The primary purpose of the device is to ensure that you are not operating your vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol.  You are required to blow into the device when you start your vehicle. If you do not have any alcohol in your system, the car will start normally. If you have a .01% BAC or above in your system, the car will enter a short “lockout” period and the vehicle will not start.

The device may also require you to blow while you’re driving. The two reasons for this requirement are to ensure that someone other than yourself did not blow in the machine in order for the car to start, or that you are consuming alcohol while driving.  

When you are required to blow in the machine while driving, the device will chime. You will have a certain amount of time to blow into the machine, or if necessary, pull your car over to give a breath sample.  If you don’t have alcohol in your system, the car will continue to operate as normal.

If alcohol is detected, the device will register a fail to the IID company. In some cases, if the device detects alcohol, the horn will start honking and the lights will start flashing until the vehicle is turned off. If you fail to provide a breath sample, the device will report that as well.

If there is any tampering with the device, which could include removing, bypassing, or tampering, or if the device registers a fail three or more times, the court and DMV will be notified. The Court will likely issue a warrant, violate your probation, and the District Attorney can also charge you with a separate crime. DMV will immediately reinstate the suspension of your driving privileges.

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Do I Need To Install And IID?

An IID is required for anyone that was convicted of a DUI, unless it is your first conviction (see below):

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Further, the court may order the IID for a longer period of time, up to 3 years, including higher alcohol levels, with two or more prior moving traffic violations, or to those that refuse a chemical test.   

Changes in the Law For First Offenders

Under the current law, DMV requires a mandatory license suspension for first-time DUI offenders.  After a 30-day period “hard” suspension, you may be eligible to obtain a restricted license.  Starting in 2019, DMV will stay the mandatory suspension if you install the IID on your vehicle for 6 months.  The suspension will still be there, but if you are in compliance with the terms of the IID agreement, you can continue to drive without restriction. Further, if the first DUI involves an injury, the mandatory 1-year suspension is also stayed, but you must install the IID on your vehicle.

How Much Does the IID Cost?

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There are three fees for the ignition interlock device: the installation fee, the monthly fee, and the maintenance and calibration. The cost to install the breathalyzer device, which is typically between $75-$150, but you may be able to obtain a free install through your attorney.  The monthly fee is approximately $75 per month. The maintenance and calibration fees vary, but it is required to be done about every 60 days.

However, there are new laws that may help lower income DUI offenders.  Depending on your income, you may qualify to only pay 10%, 25%, or 50%. The fee is based on federal guidelines, and if you qualify, the IID will pay the balance of the fee.

Good News About the Installing an IID.

There are many problems with the IID, but it will permit you to retain or regain license, which will allow you to maintain employment, schooling, familial responsibilities, as well as court-ordered programs that require driving.

If you install an IID on your vehicle, it may be possible to keep your license without DMV forcing its mandatory suspension on you after a DUI arrest. However, to be able to comply with this requirement, you will have to act quickly.

It should be noted that just because you were arrested for a DUI does not necessarily mean that you will have to install an IID on your vehicle. You should consult an experienced and dedicated drunk driving lawyer immediately to see what can be done to avoid the IID. In addition, you are entitled to a DMV hearing, but you must request one within 10 days of the arrest.  By contacting our office, we will request a hearing for you free of charge. You are not obligated in any way, but we want you to have the best chance of avoiding the consequences of a DUI arrest. If you are unable to contact us in time, please request the hearing yourself by faxing the Request for DMV Hearing to the appropriate DMV Driver's Safety Office. Remember that if you succeed at DMV, it may be possible to avoid the IID altogether, which could save you hundreds of dollars.

If you fail to request a DMV hearing, it may still be possible to retain your license, but you must obtain an IID before your temporary license expires so you do not have to face a suspension. However, this option should be used after all other options have been exhausted.

It also appears that there is an early incentive to installing the IID early. Credit will be given to someone that placed the IID on their vehicle, even before a DUI conviction. This can keep you from losing your driver’s license without any suspension period.

Retain An Experienced DUI Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Tina M. Barberi, PC, we are experienced in handling drunk driving cases and we stay current on the laws when it comes to DMV and the courts. We want you to keep your license and not have to worry about this DUI charge causing you problems in the future.

Although the new IID law is not ideal, there are a number of ways that you may be able to avoid installing the device, which will save you hundreds of dollars.

If you just received a DUI, please contact our office immediately so we can contact the DMV on your behalf so you do not receive an immediate suspension. Remember that you have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to contact the DMV or you will receive a suspended license. ​

If you already have a suspended license, contact us and we will get you started on the right path to clear the suspended license and help you avoid the IID requirement in 2019. We will discuss all your options with you so you can make a meaningful decision.

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