The passing of Senate Bill 1046 allows drivers who were convicted of a DUI in California to drive, by installing an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a small cell phone-sized Breathalyzer device that monitors the BAC level of the driver. An IID is connected to the ignition system and prevents the car from starting if it detects alcohol in your breath. The use of IIDs allows drivers to avoid mandatory license suspension. Previously, drivers were required to spend a period of up to five years (or more for holders of commercial driver's licenses) while their driving licenses were suspended. Driving before the expiration of the period led to an additional conviction for driving on a suspended license. The San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm assists drivers who wish to restore their driving privileges or are required to install an IID. Here is everything you need to know about Ignition Interlock Devices:

Overview of Ignition Interlock Devices

The use of ignition interlock devices has contributed to a reduction in the number of repeat DUI offenses by 40-95%. California introduced the use of ignition interlock devices as a pilot program in four counties, including Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare, and Sacramento. After the success of these devices in the counties, the devices are now used statewide starting 2019.

An IID is a device that measures and monitors your blood alcohol concentration as you drive. The device, which is installed on the dashboard of your car, requires a breath sample before you start the car. If it detects alcohol, or you fail to submit a sample, the engine will not start. If you have not consumed alcohol, the car starts.

The device achieves this through its two major components:

  • The Breathalyzer – a device that measures the deep lung air to detect any concentration of alcohol in your breath.
  • The immobilizer, which is a safety mechanism that connects the engine and ignition system of your car to prevent the car from starting until it receives a signal from the Breathalyzer.

The device monitors your alcohol intake throughout the drive by requesting random samples or at intervals. Once it requests a sample, you have six minutes within which to provide the sample. You can, therefore, find a safe place to stop the car and provide the sample.

If you fail to provide the sample within the six-minute window or fail the tests severally, the IID will make a record and warn you. The warning includes flashing lights that will go off once you turn off the ignition. If the device detects alcohol while you are driving, it will send a log to the court, which registers on your record. Usually, the device cannot automatically stop the car for failure to provide a sample as this would endanger other road users.

When the IID detects alcohol in your breath, it will give you several chances to resubmit a sample. Failing multiple times will result in a complete lockout. This means that you have to get the installer to reset the device so that you can continue driving.

Some of the circumstances under which the court of the DMV will require you to install an IID include:

  • A first DUI offense with a BAC of .15% or higher
  • A first DUI offense with a BAC of at least .08%
  • A first offense for refusal to submit a chemical test
  • Driving on a suspended license, where the suspension was because of violation of a DUI regulation
  • Convictions for repeat DUI offenses
  • DUI causing injury or death

The DMV may require you to install an IID even if you are not convicted for a DUI. The DMV suspends licenses upon a DUI arrest. If you request a hearing within ten days of the arrest, the DMV will determine whether you violate the driving laws. When it finds you culpable, the DMV suspends your license. You may, however, continue driving by installing an IID for one year as a condition of the restricted driver’s license.

IID Restricted License Vs. Restricted License

Depending on the outcome of your hearing, the DMV may choose to suspend your license. Once your license is suspended, you cannot drive anywhere without violating the law. However, if you live in California, driving is almost a necessity. You need a car to drive you around to have your errands done. Therefore, you may request the DMV to issue you with a restricted license.

A restricted license allows you to drive to and from work, DUI School, and to drop off or pick up a minor dependent from school. A restricted license is different from an IID. The latter gives you unlimited driving privileges as long as you install an IID in your car.

An IID is a means of allowing DUI convicts to reinstate their driving privileges earlier. Before the introduction of IIDs, you would have to wait until the suspension period elapsed before restoring your driving privileges.

Given that a license could be suspended for six months to five years, depending on your driving record and the circumstances of the offense, most people ignore the suspension. Ignoring the license suspension increases the likelihood of repeat DUI offenses and a conviction for driving on a suspended license.

Installing an IID

If your license was suspended for a DUI or related conviction, you would have to install an IID if you intend to restore your unrestricted driving privileges. In most cases, you have to spend a minimum time on a suspended license.

After a DUI conviction, you will have to install an IID for a period depending on the nature of the offense and past convictions:

  • One year for a second subsequent offense
  • Two years for a third subsequent offense
  • Three years for a fourth or subsequent offense

The DMV requires you to spend some time while your license is suspended after which you may install an IID. For a first DUI offense, your license is not suspended, but you will have to install an IID for between four and six months. You may have to install the device for between two to four years for subsequent offenses with injury or death.

You may request an IID if you meet the following conditions:

  • You have cleared all the revocations or suspensions on your driving record
  • You have complied with all the requirements of DUI probation. You will either provide DL 107 Proof of Enrollment Certificate or DL 101 Notice of Completion Certificate
  • Provide an SR-22 certificate from your auto insurance provider to show proof of financial responsibility
  • Have a court-approved installer install the device
  • Pay all the associated fees including a $45 administrative fee
  • Provide the DMV with DL 924 DMV Ordered Verification of Ignition Interlock
  • Install the IID in all vehicles you drive, however, you do not need to install an IID in your employer’s vehicle that you drive

The court has approved some vendors who are responsible for installing IID devices. The DMV provides a list of qualified installers, which you can find online, or by visiting the local DMV office. You will install the IID for a period specified by the court.

Ignition interlock devices cost between $75 and $150 for the initial installation. In addition, you have to pay a $50 fee each time you take the device for calibration. The court also expects you to take the device for regular maintenance every sixty days. Those who cannot afford the cost of an IID can request for financial assistance.

During the installation, the installer will educate you on how to use the IID. The steps to follow when using an IID include:

  • Start your car to power the device so that you can submit a sample
  • The device may display the “blow” instruction. Blow into the device using the required breath pattern and for the required time
  • Wait for the results – if you passed the test, continue driving; if not, the device will allow you several retests.

Make sure that you have not used an alcohol-based product such as a mouthwash. Rinse out your mouth and retest.

IID Violations VC 23247

The success of the IID relies heavily on the behavior of the driver. Ignition interlock devices are very accurate. They measure the BAC content and can detect outside interference. Such efficiency makes it easy to spot any interference or attempts to tamper with the device. The likelihood of measuring other elements in the car, such as cigarette smoke or gasoline is very low.

The only time you could get a false positive is when you have eaten an alcohol-based substance or are on a keto diet. In such cases, you can always rinse off your mouth to prevent the effect of mouth alcohol.

The court takes seriously attempts to violate or tamper with the IID. Some of the violations include:

  • Driving a vehicle when you have not installed an IID as required
  • Failure to service the IID for at least three consecutive times
  • Removing or tampering with the IID
  • Failing to disclose the IID requirement when renting or leasing a car
  • Requesting another person to take a sample on your behalf
  • Leasing or renting out a car without an IID to a person who has an IID restricted license

Violating IID requirements can result in fines of up to $5,000 and a maximum jail term of six months. The court will also suspend your license for one year. You can only restore your driving privileges after the completion of the suspension period and after meeting all the requirements of reinstating your license. If you knowingly help someone circumvent the IID requirements, you are equally held liable for violating the terms. You will be convicted as one with a DUI conviction.

In addition to the efficiency in measuring the BAC level, the IID has specifications that make it hard for another person to provide a sample on your behalf. They include:

  • Hum-tone recognition and blow and suck patterns through which allow you to submit breath samples in a unique pattern
  • The requirement to submit random samples as you drive
  • The short cord on the IID which prevents it from reaching the passenger seat
  • Strict penalties including jail time, hefty penalties, an extension on the period of suspension and license suspension. The person helping you violate I ID regulations is also punished.

Despite these regulations and specifications in place, some people still manage to get around the rules and continue driving while under the influence. However, manufacturers are coming up with newer technologies and ways of reducing drunk driving while using IID. Therefore, you may find that your IID has a camera as an additional accessory.

The camera takes a photograph every time you take a breath sample. Most of these cameras are mounted on the windshield and must be linked to the IID each time you take a test. In addition, the IID must be in view of the camera as you take the test to ensure that you are not letting someone take the sample on your behalf. California does not mandate the use of IID devices with cameras.

IID Data

The IID is designed with a large memory capacity to record all the interactions you have with it. The device sends this data at various intervals to the monitoring authority. The interval at which the device sends data depends on its specifications and monitoring requirements by the monitoring agency. Some of the data an IID sends include:

  • Your tests (both successful and unsuccessful) as well as the BAC level of each test
  • Your photographs as you provide the sample. The camera feature is only available in some models
  • Any missed calibration
  • Your vehicle’s GPS
  • Long idle times
  • Suspect breath samples
  • All the starts and stops of your engine
  • Refused tests
  • Device lockouts
  • Any attempts to tamper or disconnect the device

The data is recorded into a log within the device. When calibrating, the data may be downloaded and printed. The monitoring agency, which could be the court, your probation officer, or your parole officer, receives a copy of each log.

The data provided by the IID can provide important information about your drinking habits and your compliance with the sentencing and treatment conditions.

IID Lockout

Every IID has a state-mandated lockout feature. A lockout occurs when you do not use the device properly, and it prevents you from starting your car. A lockout can be temporary, where the car will not start until you provide a clean breath sample. A permanent lockout occurs when the device stops the car, and only the installer can reset it or replace it.

Failed breath tests are a common trigger for lockouts. Your device is designed to start after you provide a clean breath sample. Usually, the clean sample has a BAC level that does not exceed the set limit (often below .20%. First, the device will temporarily lockout until you provide a clean sample. Then after several failed attempts, it will go into permanent lockout, and you will have to visit your installer to have it fixed.

Failing to calibrate your device will also lead to a lockout. Calibration is a maintenance process that ensures that the device works correctly. Missing your calibration appointments is a violation of IID regulation that can have the device lockout. Whenever you experience a permanent lockout, the vehicle will have to be towed for service.

The IID records attempts to tamper with your device. In addition, it can lockout after several attempts to bypass, tamper, or remove your device. When you take the IID for servicing, the report will show an attempt to tamper and can result in additional penalties from the court.

Another common cause of device lockouts is the refusal to submit a rolling retest. While it could be risky to other motorists for your car to stop after missing a test, it will lockout immediately you stop the car. Therefore, you will not be able to start the car again.

Sometimes, a lockout happens during your regular vehicle servicing. To avoid such a lockout, it is advisable to inform your mechanic beforehand so that he or she is aware of the presence of the device. In some cases, you can record the maintenance schedule with your device installer who may offer technical support to your mechanic so that the device does not record a violation. In case a lockout happens during maintenance, you should contact your device installer immediately to report the lockout.

The state uses lockout data to observe the number of times you failed your tests and any attempts to bypass or tamper with the device. The monitoring agency might, at its discretion, charge you with violating the device regulations.

It is advisable that you always drive sober or arrange other means of transport to maintain a clean record. In addition, you should learn how to use an IID from your installer to minimize the chances of a lockout occurring due to misuse. You should also schedule and attend your servicing appointments on time to keep the device running.

How to Find an IID Installer

The installation of an IID requires the services of an experienced and court-approved expert. The DMV has a list of approved installers from which you can choose. Since you will have the device for some time, you must take your time to choose the best service provider.

Compare the costs of installing and maintaining an IID from various providers. Different companies have different charges for installing, maintaining, and calibrating an IID. While comparing the prices, examine your budget to see whether you can afford the device- remember that you have to cover all the costs associated with the IID.

 You should also check the features of the IID offered in various models by the manufacturers. The device you choose should be convenient and less intrusive. The main point of having an IID is to ensure that you are not driving drunk. Therefore, the IID you choose should be easy to use. It should also not impose additional requirements such as a wait-time before driving, for convenience. You may find it hard to settle on the best model. I such a case, consider the requirements by the court, the opinion of friends and family who have used an IID and your preferences.

Examine the installing company to determine their experience level, customer service, and the models in which they install ignition interlock devices. Preferably, you should choose a company that has been around longer. They are more likely to have affordable services and a good reputation. You can verify their service delivery through online reviews or ask your network about their experience with the IID installing expert.

You should also check the availability of customer support services in case you experience problems with your device. Customer service and support are important as it forms the basis of interaction with the installation company. If they have poor customer service, you are likely to experience a hard time dealing while using their services.

Different installers also deal with different models of cars. Therefore, you have to ensure that the installer you choose deals with cars of the same make as yours. Different car models have different components and systems.

If after following the above tips, you have not found the right installer, ask your lawyer for a recommendation. DUI lawyers are familiar with various court-approved installers. He or she can direct you to an installer that is reliable, affordable, and locally available.

Find a DUI Attorney Near Me

Driving is a privilege you cannot afford to lose. Losing your driving privileges for a DUI arrest or conviction can upset your life significantly. If you are arrested for a DUI, contact the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm. We specialize in providing defense services for people charged with a DUI. The first step we take is requesting a DMV hearing to challenge the impending suspension of your license. We also help you restore your driving rights after a DUI conviction. We can inform you about ignition interlock devices, how you can use them to restore your driving rights and fulfill your court-ordered and domestic obligations. If you have any questions about IIDs, contact our firm at 408-777-6330.