What Is The Ignition Interlock Device? How Does It Relate To DUI Charges?
An ignition interlock is a device that hooks up to a person’s car that requires the driver to blow into it to make sure that there’s no alcohol in their system before the car is able to start. The driver has to periodically blow into the device while driving to keep indicating that they do not have alcohol in their system. The interlock will beep every time the driver needs to blow into it. It’s important to note that it doesn’t work for marijuana. It’s not a test for marijuana. They’re currently developing different tests, and maybe one day they’ll have an ignition interlock device for marijuana. So, at the moment, they are going to take away your driver’s license. That’s why an ignition does not help on a first offense.
In 2019, the law involving interlock devices changed. In California, when someone gets a regular DUI, and if they’re convicted, they either have a restricted license or an ignition interlock device installed in their car for a period of time. Typically, the ignition interlock device is installed for six months. With a higher alcohol level above 2%, it is closer to a year. However, it depends on the county that you are in. For example, if you’re in Sonoma County, everyone convicted of a DUI is required to install an interlock device. That’s just the judge’s policy. In Marin County, that’s not the case. You would have a choice because the judge does not mandate what you’re going to choose. But, some counties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area do say that you have to have the interlock. For marijuana DUI, as previously mentioned, the ignition interlock does not come into play for a first offense. Instead, you would have your driver’s license suspended for six months if you are convicted in court.
How Do I Go About Getting An Ignition Interlock Device Installed In My Vehicle In California?
You can get an ignition interlock device installed any time in the process after you’ve been arrested. Typically, it’s a good idea to do your DMV hearing and court cases simultaneously, and push them both out so that you’re able to drive. If you are convicted of a DUI alcohol, in some counties where you have a choice, you can choose to get the ignition interlock device installed. In some counties, you may be able to do one month of no driving, followed by eleven months of work, restricted driving with no interlock on your car, and a first offense on your record.
Most people choose to have the interlock because they can drive anywhere compared to a restricted license, which only allows drivers to drive to and from work or to and from DUI school. Therefore, the safer bet is to get the interlock. You can get the interlock almost right away with very little downtime, maybe just a day or two.
As your attorney, I would time your court conviction with finishing the case, which would each result in separate suspensions. But, we want them to run at the same time. So, once we finish the court case, and the DMV is updated about the court conviction, they’ll send you a letter that says you’re suspended. Your suspension will actually start on your court conviction date, and sometime shortly after or right before that, you can get the interlock. There are different companies that do that. One of the other things that you’re going to need is high-risk insurance, which is called an SR-22 policy. You’re going to have to maintain that for three years, and that’s a lot less than your normal insurance. But, you have to keep your normal insurance as well. There’s a company called Breathe Easy Insurance Solutions, and they work with an interlock company. They can get you on an SR-22 policy and get you in touch with an interlock company. There are different places where you can get the interlock installed, and Breath Easy Insurance Solutions can help you find one close to your house. You then can make an appointment, and get it installed.
You also need to be enrolled in a DUI school. That’s something that we talk to clients about doing as soon as possible before the license suspension starts because you need those three things to happen. The DMV needs to see that you’re enrolled before you are able to get your interlock license. To get your license, you will need to pay a reissue fee and bring in all of the paperwork that you get from the interlock installation. The DMV will already have the proof of DUI school enrollment. They’ll get that electronically from the DUI School. They’ll also have proof of the SR-22 insurance, which is sent electronically from the insurance company.
We help clients every day because there are questions all the time about how this process is done. I go over this a lot with my clients when they are going to need an interlock. In all of our cases, we fight and try to find a way to win. We find a way to get the best result. If there is a situation where someone has multiple offenses, we go over it thoroughly and talk about the different DUI schools that they can attend. Multiple offenders have to do a much longer school, which usually takes 18 months to complete. And you’re going to have to have the interlock installed for about two years. You may also have to calibrate it every other month to make sure that it’s working properly.
If you have asthma, any breathing problems, or if you’re elderly, these machines are sometimes hard to blow into, and if that’s the case, you should let us know. We’ll talk to you about your situation, and get you checked out. Sometimes you’ll need to have a doctor or pulmonologist do an assessment to show that you can’t use the regular breathing device and that you require a different one. A different and easier device would require less breath volume than the regular ignition interlock device. There’s a lot to know about these devices, and we help people all the time understand how these interlocks work when they need to have them.
The nicest thing about the ignition interlock is that it allows you to drive anywhere, everywhere, and any time. You just have to make sure that when you blow into them, it’s not reading alcohol. You need to watch out for hand sanitizer and things like that because that can make it look as if there’s alcohol when you’re blowing into them. You also don’t want to rinse your mouth with mouthwash and blow into the device because it’ll show a false positive, your car will not start, and a report gets generated.
I’m always happy to answer questions about interlocks. You can contact me anytime. If I don’t know the answer, I can still point you in the right direction.
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