What is an ignition interlock device?

Texans and many around the country may have heard about someone with a drunk driving offense being ordered to have an ignition interlock device in their motor vehicle. If one is charged with drunk driving, they may be wondering what exactly is an ignition interlock device and who has to have one?

An ignition interlock device is an instrument that is essentially the same as a breathalyzer machine and can be installed in a motor vehicle. The device is designed to prevent someone who has consumed alcohol from operating a vehicle.

The ignition interlock measures the driver’s blood alcohol content and disables the vehicle’s ignition if the driver’s blood alcohol level measures over a certain amount. The device then initiates a lockout period after a failed test. The lock-out period will generally get longer with each failed test.

Most states have laws that allow or require courts to order that ignition interlock devices be used by certain drunk driving offenders. These laws vary widely from state to state.

Many states give courts the discretion to order these devices to be used for first time drunk driving offenders. But, in many states, these devices are mandatory in certain cases involving multiple offenses or particularly high blood alcohol content levels. In addition to the use of the device, the offender is also responsible for all fees associated with the installation, use and removal of the device. Almost all states incorporate the use of ignition interlock devices in their drunk driving laws and penalties. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Ignition Interlock Devices,” accessed on April 17, 2018

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