Everything You Need To Know About The Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are now required for all convicted DUI offenders in South Carolina as of Oct. 1, 2014. Emma's Law mandates IID installation for first-time offenders who are convicted with a proven .15% blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher. All other offenders (second offense and above within 10 years) are also required to install and use an IID for at least two years.

Additionally, first-time offenders whose breath test resulted in a BAC of .08 to .14% may wish to install an IID instead of having their driver's license suspended, which will allow them to drive unrestricted. Otherwise, a first-time offender who is convicted with a BAC of .15% or higher will be required to drive with an IID for six months after conviction.

Emma's Law applies only if you lose your trial, plead guilty to DUI or lose the breath test case (implied consent hearing). Your case can still be defended by an experienced lawyer, and you can avoid IID installation.

What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID), also known as a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID), is a breath test machine that can be installed in a vehicle. Before the vehicle can be started, a driver must blow into the breath test component to demonstrate that there is no alcohol in their system. If the breath test component of the IID detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle's engine from being started.

The ignition interlock device program serves the purpose of keeping people with DUI convictions off the road while allowing them to get their licenses reinstated so they can get to work, get the kids to school and otherwise maintain their driving privileges. Depending on a person's BAC at the time of their DUI arrest, they may agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device rather than having their driver's license suspended.

How Does An Ignition Interlock Device Work?

An ignition interlock device works like any other breath-testing machine, analyzing a person's breath to determine an estimation of their BAC. Unlike other breath tests, ignition interlock devices are attached to a motor vehicle's ignition system in order to prevent the engine from being started if alcohol is detected in the breath sample.

The current generation of ignition interlock devices uses a fuel cell sensor to test for alcohol. These cells can detect all types of alcohol, not just ethanol (what alcohol becomes in our system after ingestion). Therefore, it is important to avoid things like mouthwashes that contain alcohol before attempting to start your vehicle.

Ignition interlock devices are also equipped with cameras to ensure that people are not having friends, children or another person blow into the machine for them after they've had a few drinks and wish to drive.

How Much Does An Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

If the positive aspect of the ignition interlock program is that it allows you to drive, the major drawback is its cost. These devices are expensive to install, maintain and remove.

Installation alone costs upward of $1,000, and it costs around $130 each month for monitoring and other fees. This is on top of any fines or penalties you've already been levied for your DUI offense and a likely increase in your auto insurance premiums. There is also the personal cost that comes with the embarrassment of having your photo taken and needing to blow into a breath test machine every time you need to start your car.

Ignition Interlock Device Requirements From A DUI

No one is required to have an ignition interlock device installed after a DUI offense; people can choose to have their driver's license suspended and spend a considerable time without it before eventually having it reinstated. However, for all practical purposes, people will do what is necessary to maintain their driving privileges and that means bowing to the rules surrounding ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock devices are required for those with a first-offense DUI with BAC between .08% to .14% who wish to avoid the suspension of their driver's license. First timers with BAC of .15 or higher are required to use an ignition interlock device in order to have their license reinstated after a conviction. Subsequent offenses will result in requirements to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least two years.

What If You Are Required To Have An Ignition Interlock Device Installed In Your Vehicle?

Each IID installation costs about $1,000. Thereafter, you will be charged about $130 each month for monitoring fees and other expenses. Each time that you enter your vehicle, a camera will take a series of pictures of you, and the car will not start if alcohol is detected. This process is not just embarrassing and inconvenient, but also costly on top of other fines and penalties.

This is one of the reasons some people choose to refuse to take a breath test when pulled over on suspicion of DUI. They would rather take their chances getting a temporary driver's license at an implied consent hearing than risk being convicted of DUI and having to have an ignition interlock device installed in order to avoid a license suspension. Ultimately, that's a choice for each individual to make on their own, but it's important to be aware of all the options as well as their potential consequences.

Your Case Can Still Be Defended And Your Driving Privileges Protected

Please call Drennan Law Firm in Charleston at 843-352-4149, or email us to schedule a free initial consultation. We have the answers to all of your DUI questions. We will fight for your rights, and we will help you understand your full legal options.