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What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

A man using an ignition-interlock device to start his car because he was involved in a DUI.

An ignition interlock device (IID) measures the amount of alcohol in someone’s system when they blow into a mouthpiece. It is connected to a vehicle’s engine ignition and prevents the vehicle from starting if the amount of alcohol is over a pre-specified limit.

In many cases, people who have been convicted of a DUI offense are ordered by the courts to install an IID before they are allowed to legally drive. Along with an increase in your car insurance costs, drivers who are convicted of DUI may be paying for an IID, as well.

An IID is a piece of equipment that acts like a breathalyzer in the car’s steering column. With an IID, the car will only start once the driver breathes into the device and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is registered within the legal limit. A driver will be unable to start their car if they have been drinking and are beyond the limit to drive. The IID does not only require breaths to start the car – drivers are also required to provide breath samples periodically during their trip.

Who Needs to Obtain an Ignition Interlock Device and for How Long?

People who have been convicted of a DUI and who are ordered by the court to install an IID as a condition of driving. The time it is installed varies, according to the state and the offense. States have different regulations concerning IID requirements, but an example comes from California, which requires IIDs for:

  • First time DUI offenders who have caused an injury related to the incident (IID will be required for six months)
  • Second DUI offense (IID will be required for one year)
  • Third DUI offense (IID will be required for two years)
  • Four or more DUI offenses (IID will be required for three years)

First time DUI offenders that did not cause an injury will not be required to have an IID in California, but they will have the option to choose between full driving privileges with an IID for six months or a restricted driver’s license for one-year without an IID. The restricted driver’s license would only allow them to drive to work and to their required alcohol and drug education program.

Drivers convicted of DUI will also be required to find SR-22 insurance, since they are now considered to be high-risk drivers.

Woman behind the wheel of a car blowing into an interlock ignition device

How Much Does an IID Cost?

Typically between $70 and $200 to get it installed and then you must pay a monthly fee of $2.50 to $3.50 per day. The IID must be installed by an approved vendor, you cannot install it yourself or get your friend who is a mechanic to do it for you.

Can I Get Around My IID?

You can, but it is against the law. People have tried a variety of ways to get around their IID, like having a friend blow into the device. Keep in mind that if you successfully get around your IID and then get stopped and charged with DUI or worse, cause an accident, you could go to jail. It’s that serious. Other penalties include having to restart you’re your driver’s license suspension.

The IID itself has anti-tampering software that can tell on you if you attempt to bypass the device or disable it. And remember, most IID’s will repeatedly ask you to blow into the mouthpiece while you are driving, not just when you attempt to start the vehicle.

What are the Negative Consequences of Having an IID?

For starters, IID’s can be expensive to install and maintain. They can be annoying to deal with and embarrassing to explain to passengers in your vehicle. Imagine heading out to lunch with your coworkers and having to explain your IID or taking a road trip with friends and being forced to randomly pull-over to provide a breath sample.

While having an IID is not ideal, it does provide the opportunity for you to get back on the road quicker. It also helps to guide you on the path to being a responsible driver and if used effectively you will have your full driving privileges back sooner than you imagined.

Get Low-Cost DUI Auto Insurance Online Today

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI and need car insurance, Freeway Insurance can help. Freeway specializes in insuring drivers who have DUIs, tickets, accidents, or require an SR-22. Request a free DUI car insurance quote online, over the phone by calling (800) 777-5620 or at one of our convenient locations.

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