California ignition interlock devices are portable breath-testing devices that are installed in a DUI offender’s vehicle. The device is designed to prevent the car from starting unless the driver provides a breath sample that is within preset limits – usually any alcohol at all. The devices are typically installed because of a court order. An experienced California drunk driving attorney can determine whether the device is likely to be ordered in a particular case.
The use of ignition interlock devices is becoming more common in California DUI / DWI cases. In the past, ignition interlock devices were not mandatory for multiple-offense drunk drivers, but new California legislation effective September 20, 2005 dictates that anyone convicted of multiple DUIs within a 10-year period must have the device installed on his or her vehicle.
Even on first-offense DUI / DWI cases, the court has the power to order the installation of an ignition interlock device. The device is more likely to be ordered in a first-offense drunk driving case if the motorist refused to take a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, or if the motorist’s BAC was .15 percent or greater. Some judges order ignition interlock devices in all Driving Under the Influence cases, even first offenses, if the driver’s BAC was .10 percent or greater.
Anyone convicted of driving on a suspended driver’s license must also have an ignition interlock device installed if the license suspension stemmed from a DUI / DWI conviction.
Ignition interlock devices are an excellent tool in the hands of a qualified California DUI criminal defense lawyer who may be able to use an ignition interlock device as a tool for negotiating a better settlement or avoiding jail in an appropriate drunk driving case.
Drunk driving convictions aren’t the only reason ignition interlock devices are installed. The device can be helpful in any instance where safety and alcohol-free driving is important. Some parents insist upon the installation of an ignition interlock device to ensure their teenager is not drinking and driving.
The devices also may be used in child custody and divorce cases if there is an allegation that one or both parents has a problem with drinking and driving, even if it didn’t result in a DUI conviction. The devices also are used by private companies to reduce the risk of drivers who could place others in danger by drinking and driving.
Ignition interlock devices work under a simple principle – the vehicle will not run if the driver’s breath shows a certain BAC, or in most cases, the presence of any alcohol at all. The device is installed into the steering column of the car. The driver is trained in how to operate the device – it is not as simple as blowing into the collection tube. The driver must learn certain breath patterns to prevent a third party from blowing into the device to start the car.
Once the car is running, “rolling re-tests” are required every 15 minutes to one hour. If the driver fails to perform this rolling retest when prompted, the machine will record a violation. It is a crime in California to attempt to assist anyone in disabling an ignition interlock, or to blow into the tube to start the vehicle for another driver.
The California ignition interlock leader is Smart Start of California, part of the Texas-based national ignition interlock pioneer, Smart Start. Anyone required to install an ignition interlock device, whether for a DUI / DWI conviction, a suspended driver’s license, or for any other reason, can contact Smart Start of California for prompt and reliable service. For additional information about ignition interlock devices, or to schedule an appointment, contact Smart Start headquarters toll-free at (800) 880-3394.