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DUI and Ignition Interlock Devices: What You Need to Know

By San Diego Attorney on September 20, 2023

Man blowing into an Ignition Interlock Device in his car.

California is tough on DUI. A conviction of driving under the influence carries heavy penalties. Even for a first offense, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, if you are 21 or older, you could be facing jail time, fines, probation, driver’s license suspension, and mandatory attendance in a DUI education program. An ignition interlock device (IID) installation may reduce some of the penalties.

What Are Ignition Interlock Devices?

Although there are different types of ignition interlock devices, they all have certain features in common. Drivers blow into a breathalyzer mouthpiece to provide a breath sample, which the device tests for alcohol content. The device will allow the driver to start the vehicle if the sample tests under the limit (typically .02%).

The purpose of these devices is to prevent drivers who have been drinking from starting their vehicles. They may also provide continuous sobriety monitoring by requiring drivers to provide breath samples intermittently throughout the trip. If a driver tests above the limit for breath alcohol during a trip, the device will signal the driver to pull over and stop the car. Some devices will make the lights flash or the horn honk until the driver shuts off the vehicle.

When Are IIDs Required for DUI Offenders in California?

Under state law, ignition interlock devices are only required for repeat DUI offenders. However, several counties, including Los Angeles County, are now participating in a pilot program in which IIDs are required for all DUI offenders. Outside these counties, you may be ordered to install an IID as a condition of probation or for a second, third, or subsequent DUI conviction in a 10-year period.

Ignition interlock devices can be expensive to install and maintain, and it can be frustrating to drive with one in your vehicle, but they do have certain advantages. In many cases, installing an IID can help you regain your driving privileges and make the penalties for DUI less severe.

How Can a San Diego Attorney Help with DUI Charges and IID Requirements?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the first step is to fight the charges aggressively. Your San Diego DUI attorney can examine the prosecution’s case against you, challenge every flaw, and raise every legal defense that applies to your case. Common defenses against DUI include:

  • Police did not have legal cause to stop you.
  • Law enforcement failed to adhere to DUI checkpoint guidelines.
  • Police made errors in administering field sobriety tests.
  • The breathalyzer equipment was faulty.
  • Your blood alcohol levels rose from the time you were pulled over to the time of chemical testing — you were not under the influence at the time you were driving.

Your San Diego defense lawyer can work to refute evidence and show that you are not guilty of DUI or get your case pleaded down to a lesser charge. Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend the installation of an ignition interlock device as a way to reduce your penalties and get your driving privileges reinstated as soon as possible. However, this is only necessary if you are convicted of DUI.

You Can Count On Us to Defend Your Rights

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys in San Diego, we want to secure your freedom and get you back on the road. Founding attorney James N. Dicks is a former LAPD officer and narcotics investigator and a board-certified Criminal Law Specialist with 30 years of legal experience. He has been named among the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and listed among California Super Lawyers.

If you are facing DUI charges and the prospect of installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, call us to schedule a free consultation at (760) 630-2000 today.

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