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Ignition interlock systems function like a breathalyzer. They read the breath as it is blown onto the sensor and return a measurement of your blood alcohol content. Like any machine, the system is not perfect. Many interlock companies advertise “fuel cell” technology and claim not to have false positive readings. However, some medications, beverages, mouthwashes, and other consumables can cause a false reading for alcohol content in police breath tests, so why assume it is any different with an interlock system?
To be on the safe side, you should wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after eating or drinking any beverages before attempting to use the ignition interlock device. Don't risk a bad reading! Mouthwash is potentially problematic because there is alcohol in most brands.
A small percentage of drivers take part in an ignition interlock device program, only to try to cheat the system later on. Did you know a driver is subject to arrest for such actions? The ignition interlock system must be used by the owner of the vehicle each and every time he or she attempts to drive. There is a list of illegal uses of the ignition interlock system including:
1. Tampering with the ignition interlock device in any way.
2. Allowing someone else to use the interlock breath alcohol test to allow the owner to drive.
3. De-installing the ignition interlock system and operating the vehicle.
These are all illegal, and can result in the removal of the offender from the program and possible arrest.
Participation in an ignition interlock device program requires absolute cooperation in order to be considered successful. Even with the second chance, there are some people who try to thwart, tamper with, or override the ignition interlock. Those who really want the second chance at being a safe driver again don't attempt this, but the percentage that do force manufacturers of ignition interlock systems to install anti-tampering devices which can inconvenience those who are making an honest go of their second chance program.
One inconvenience you may be forced to deal with is with food and drink while driving. It is not a good idea to consume food around an ignition interlock device. Many models activate the breath test function at random as part of a program called the "rolling test". This "secret sample" will prevent the car from operating if a positive breath alcohol test result is achieved. Interlock manufacturers recommend no eating or drinking around the system to “prevent damage to the system”.
It's important to remember that one requirement of the California DMV and ignition interlocks system plans for many states include a mandatory calibration. You will need to take your vehicle to the approved installer of ignition interlock devices and have it checked, usually once every 60 days.
This calibration is a must and cannot be avoided. Failure to maintain the interlock device can at the least be seen as a violation of the terms of your state's ignition interlock program, and at worst could be interpreted in an extreme case as an intentional defeat of the interlock system (depending on the circumstances of your case). Don't ruin your second chance by neglecting the calibration of your ignition interlock!
An ignition interlock system is an "add-on" or "aftermarket" device that is installed in your vehicle. Once installed, the device must return a "successful" reading before the car can start. If you fail the breath test, the vehicle will not start, and most units give you a waiting period before you can test again.
Ignition interlocks are optional devices, but many states offer programs where part of a DUI punishment may be reduced or set aside if the offender agrees to install an ignition interlock system in all vehicles they own. The California DMV and ignition interlocks go hand in hand for some offenders, who choose the interlock system as a way to hang on to driving privileges in a state where driving is a virtual necessity.
An ignition interlock device acts like an alcohol breathalyzer. You breath into the sensor, it takes your blood alcohol reading, and if your reading "passes" you can start the car.
Did you know that these devices may issue a printout of each test? If so, you may be required to hang on to these as evidence that you are complying with your ignition interlock program. What's more, you may wish to save copies of these printouts in order to show proof later on down the line in case you wish to appeal the nature of any conviction or sentencing your case. A collection of "pass" printouts can go a long way towards helping your cause when trying to negotiate a reduction in your conviction or an expungement. Check with your lawyer to see if these printouts can help you in your particular case.
State laws vary, but California has a program similar to other states including Connecticut. The rules regarding the California DMV and ignition interlock devices includes a mandatory period where your license has been revoked. If you failed a breath alcohol test and received a suspended license as part of the conviction, California state law stipulates that you serve at least half the revoked or suspended license period before you can be eligible for the ignition interlock system. Other state laws may vary, but expect that you will need to serve out at least some of the suspension period and comply with any court ordered programs and counseling to be eligible.
Participating in your state's ignition interlock device program in order to get restored driving privileges does not mean a return to "regular driver" status. The license you will be issued is considered a restricted license. Most states will issue you driving privileges with the stipulation that you have the ignition interlock device installed and working properly. There may be other restrictions as well, depending on the nature of your offense and the laws of your state. As always, you will need to comply with the terms of your restricted license to the letter. Anything less can land you in even more trouble than you had to begin with.
One of the major problems a DUI offender faces in the wake of a conviction is monetary. How do you pay the large fines and court costs? Many times the offender is put deep into debt by the case. When it comes time to get a second chance with an ignition interlock system, the offender may not be able to afford the interlock installation.
Fortunately there are some circumstances where the court can order that a portion of the fines paid in connection with a DUI conviction be applied to the interlock device. Ask your lawyer if you qualify for this. Not all states provide for this assistance, but in states such as Florida, this can be a major source of relief for someone dedicated to mending the error of their ways, driving right, and getting on with life after the legal ordeal.
If you participate in an ignition interlock system plan, there are a few things you'll need to know.
1. The expense of the installation must be paid by the offender is most states.
2. In many cases the state DMV will also require you to pay an additional fee for a conditional reinstatement of your license based on your participation in an ignition interlock program.
3. You will be required to have the ignition interlock device installed by a certified company. A list of approved companies is available through your DMV.
4. You will be required to be in compliance with any court-ordered counseling or treatment, and you are normally required to furnish proof.
The interlock program is an excellent second chance for many offenders. Consult your lawyer for specific details for your particular state.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|