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Ignition Interlock Devices 

In San Diego and Orange County Ignition Interlock Devices (also known as IID’s) are increasing in popularity involving certain types of DUI cases.  The courts are taking a much closer look and implementing more stringent penalties including IID’s especially involving cases where the blood alcohol is above .15%, a second offense, or a DUI involving an accident.  The installation of an Ignition Interlock Device is basically a mini-breathalyzer instrument that is professionally installed into the dash and ignition of a person’s car.  The main function of the device is to prevent a driver from being able to operate a motor vehicle if there is a detection of alcohol and will not allow a person to drive until they pass an alcohol free breath sample. 

How Does it Work?

If as part of your probation a judge orders you to install an IID as part of your sentence you must have it professionally installed in each and every vehicle you own or drive.  However, employer-owned vehicles and motorcycles are exempt from this rule.  Each time before you start your vehicle you will be required to blow into the IID and provide a breath sample that is free of any detection of alcohol.  If you blow into the IID and there is a trace of alcohol the car will not start and that sample showing positive for alcohol will be recoded into the IID’s memory bank.  If you pass and the vehicle starts the IID will ask for random samples or rolling tests, usually between 5-20 minutes after your initial test and then periodically on average of about every 45 minutes.  During the time that the IID device is asking for “rolling tests”, you will be given a window of time of about 6-10 minutes so if need be the driver can safely pull over and provide a sample of his/her breath while driving.  If during anytime of the “rolling tests” the IID detects alcohol it will not automatically disengage the vehicle and make it inoperable, instead, it will register a FAIL on the log and these reports are sent to the courts.  The spirit and design of the IID is to ensure that only the driver of the vehicle can operate the device and provide the sample.  This is accomplished mainly by: requiring that the person assigned to the device gives a specific breath pattern each time a sample is given.  The device will have a cord attached to it that cannot reach a passenger or a back seat occupant.  The IID will require random samples even while the car is in motion.  The courts have now made it a crime to ask another person to fraudulently provide a sample of their breath in place of the responsible parties breath.  In addition technology of the IID devices has also improved over the years and it will also record any attempts to disconnect or tamper with the device.  The memory bank of the device will also record all engine stop and start tests and all Breathalyzer results.  Many of todays IID operate on a technology called fuel cell technology.  Fuel cell technology is specific to alcohol only and is not affected by outside variables or interference.  With this technology fuel cells have virtually eliminated the chance of a contaminated breath sample by things such as cigarette smoke, gasoline, perfume, etc.  With that said any amount of alcohol that is blown into the IID will register there is no minimum threshold.  This means that a person must use caution when using mouthwashes with alcohol, consume liquor-filled products like candy, or even eating pastry type deserts since sometimes the combination of the active yeast and the sugar may produce low levels of alcohol.  If you do register with alcohol you will usually be given the chance to retest almost immediately.  The low levels of these types of alcohol will quickly disappear and rinsing with water in between the tests can help expedite the process and give the operator a passing test.  Once the court has ordered an IID installation you must take the unit in for servicing at least once every 60 days.

Why Would the Court Order an Ignition Interlock Device?

A judge may order the installation of a California Ignition Interlock Device for any type of offense that is related to driving under the influence.  That means the judge can assign it for a wide array of different reasons if you suffer a conviction for: VC23152(a): Driving under the influence, VC23152(B): Driving or operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater, VC23153, DUI resulting in injury, or even VC14601, driving while a persons privilege to drive is suspended or revoked from a previous DUI conviction.

First Time DUI-  In general, as part of a condition usually of probation a judge can issue an order that a person must install a California IID for up to 3 years in any case where the judge believes it is appropriate to do so.  As a general rule however, this typically is usually ordered on a first offense dui where the BAC level is above 0.15% or if the person refused to submit to a chemical blood test or Breathalyzer at the time of his/her arrest. 

Cost of a California Ignition Interlock Device

Cost will vary some depending on the type of device and even the complexity of installing it in some of todays more advanced automobiles.  On average, the cost of a California IID is roughly $2.50 per day.  Depending on the company that is installing it you may by charged an additional $75-$150 for the installation of the device.  You may also be required to pay fees for reporting, maintenance and calibration of your ignition interlock device.  If you are ordered and required by a California court to install an ignition interlock device in your car, you must go to an authorized installer to have it installed.  Check with the courts for a list of private businesses that are approved by the courts for the installation of a California Ignition Interlock Device. 

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