Ignition interlock devices are machines installed in a vehicle that prevent the driver from starting the car with a measurable amount of alcohol on the breath. Although new California law requires the devices’ mandatory installation in more and more DUI / DWI cases, in cases where the device is optional, the equipment can also be a powerful negotiating tool in the hands of an experienced California drunk driving attorney.
In cases where ignition interlock devices are optional, such as many first-time DUIs, an attorney may be able to negotiate the device as a sentencing alternative to harsher punishments such as jail time or a suspended driver’s license. By agreeing to use an ignition interlock device, the driver likely can remain at home and continue to drive as long as he or she is alcohol-free behind the wheel.
The devices are now mandatory for drivers convicted of two or more drunk driving offenses within 10 years, and can even be required for first offenses. Even in cases where the device is mandatory, a skilled DUI / DWI attorney may be able to leverage the use of an ignition interlock device to avoid more stringent punishment.
The principle behind the ignition interlock is simple – a driver must blow into the device to demonstrate a blood alcohol content (BAC) below a certain level (usually zero) or the car will not start. The device is installed with tamper-free tape, and the driver must use a specific breathing technique to ensure that another person doesn’t blow into the collection tube. 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.
Once the vehicle is in motion, “rolling re-tests” are required every five to 20 minutes to ensure that the driver is alcohol-free. The device records the results of each test, along with any attempts to tamper with the equipment.
Smart Start of California is the state leader in supplying ignition interlock devices. The company is a division of the Texas-based ignition interlock pioneer, Smart Start.