You might think that having an interlock device installed is optional or more of a suggestion than an order, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you reached an agreement in court that you need to have an interlock device installed, that is what you must do. There is simply no way around it.
However, people are still tempted to “beat the system” and will drive without their interlock device. When you consider the consequences if you are caught driving without your interlock device, you will see that the potential penalties really aren’t worth the risk.
In this post, we’re going to take an in-depth look at what can happen to you if you are caught driving without an interlock device. By the end of the post, you’ll be sure to think twice before getting behind the wheel without your interlock device.
What is the Purpose of an Interlock Device?
An interlock device is a breathalyzer for your car ignition that is installed into your vehicle as part of an agreement following a DUI. This device will prevent an intoxicated driver from being able to start their car. The agreement states that you will maintain your freedom to drive to work, school, or other obligations so long as you have an interlock device installed. You will have to blow into this device and have no alcohol on your breath before you can start your car.
You will also be given random rolling retests after you begin driving to ensure that you don’t drink after your initial test. These measures are in place to help keep the roads safe by preventing you from drinking and driving.
Why is it Bad to Drive Without an Interlock Device?
If you have been ordered to drive with an interlock device, you need to take it seriously, because an order is exactly what it is, not a suggestion. Thousands of these devices are installed each year into the cars of DUI offenders all over the country. However, a surprising number of people attempt to ignore the order and will drive without one.
This is despite warnings from state authorities and the person’s interlock device service provider of the potential penalties that they may face for driving without their device. But if you have been ordered to install an interlock device, it will be against the law for you to drive without one.
If you routinely drive multiple cars, you will be required to have the device installed in each of those vehicles. You will even need to have the device installed on your work vehicle if you have one — there are no exceptions.
Yet, people still consistently disregard these requirements and warnings and drive without their interlock device. They do this by borrowing someone else’s car when they want to drive, or worse, by removing the device.
This is obviously a bad move, and here are some of the many reasons why.
You May Face Serious Fines
Many people continue to risk not complying with the order to drive with an interlock device, but the fact is that it is illegal, and driving under suspension without a required interlock device will result in serious consequences such as a steep fine. The fine for this offense could reach up to several thousand dollars — a $5,000 fine is fairly common, and it can even be much more than that.
And you can also typically add in attorney fees since you will be required to reappear in court to face your charge. By the time all is said and done, you may be on the hook for up to $20,000 or more.
Your Suspension Will Get Longer
Generally, if you have an interlock device installed, it also means your license is suspended, with the exception that you are allowed to drive to work, school, or other specific family obligations as noted in your agreement. You usually cannot simply drive at your leisure whenever you please.
If you are caught driving without your device for any reason, your license will be suspended for longer, and sometimes the length of time is substantially increased. Some states may add as much as five more years to your suspension time. This is an extremely long time for you to be limited in your driving ability, and it could have detrimental effects on your life. Don’t risk extending your license suspension period by driving without your mandatory interlock device.
Your Vehicle May Be Impounded
Getting caught operating your car without the interlock device while having a suspended license could result in having your vehicle impounded by police. Even if you are driving someone else’s car, the police will have the car impounded and you will be left to explain why. Often, it is not cheap to retrieve a car from impound, and you may not be able to get your car back for a certain period of time.
Other times, they may place a boot on your car and require someone else to come get it. This is especially true if you were drinking at the time you were caught driving without your interlock device.
You Could Face Jail Time
Depending on your state and jurisdiction, you may face jail time if you are caught driving with a suspended license and without your court-ordered interlock device. This is common for those with a second offense when it comes to drinking and driving. The length of the sentence will depend on several factors, including where you live, where the offense occurred, the severity of the offense, and more. You could face days, weeks, or even up to six months of prison time in certain states.
You Could Lose Your Rights
If you are caught driving with a suspended license and without your interlock device, you may wind up as a convicted felon. This may, in turn, cause you to lose your right to vote or run for office. You may also be unable to run certain types of businesses or own firearms, have to face travel restrictions since many countries will deny visas to felons, and even be denied opportunities for federal education or housing.
If You Are Caught Driving Without an Interlock Device While Drunk
Being caught without your interlock device while drunk will only make things worse, as any penalty you may have incurred even when sober will be compounded by the fact that you were drinking. And in some states, it won’t even matter if you are drunk.
If you are caught driving illegally under suspension and without your interlock device, you could be given another DUI conviction if you have any alcohol in your system at all, even if you are under the legal limit. This may also result in a longer suspension of your license, steeper fines, and longer jail time in some states.
What if you Never Have Your Interlock Device Installed?
If you were arrested for DUI and ordered to install an interlock device, then that is exactly what you are required to do. Having an interlock device is just as much a privilege as it is a penalty because it allows you to keep driving and working. By not following the rules of the court should you decide not to have the device installed, your privilege will be quickly revoked.
The authorities will be notified if you never take your car in to have your interlock device installed. And not having your interlock device installed as mandated by the court can carry its own serious consequences, including being held in contempt, hefty fines, felony charges, and jail time. As a secondary penalty, you will also see your insurance premiums go up.
Having the device installed is a very simple and easy process, so there really is no excuse to not have the interlock device installed. There are service centers all over the country, so you can surely find one near you. At the time of installation, you will be trained in how to use the device and follow its instructions. The entire process will take no more than a couple hours.
What Happens if You Remove Your Interlock Device?
If you are caught driving without your interlock device because you removed it before the end of your court-specified period, you will face the same penalties listed above. You cannot remove the device on your own for any reason. When your period with the device has ended, simply schedule an appointment with your service center to have it removed.
Attempting to remove the device on your own will trigger a tampering alert, which could result in the device shutting down your car, triggering an alarm, or notifying the authorities. At the very least, any attempt to tamper with your device will be recorded and reported to your monitoring authority. This may have an effect on your driving privileges, and extend your period with the device, while in other states this may even be considered a felony offense.
Your suspension and tenure with an interlock device may seem like a long time, but trying to speed up the process by removing your interlock device on your own will only extend it, or worse, you may lose the privilege altogether.
How Does Your Provider or the Authorities Know If You Have Your Interlock Device Installed?
Since your interlock device was court-ordered, your state authorities will know that you are required to have the device installed. This will be documented against your license as well as your car’s license plate, in addition to any other car you need to use during your suspension period.
Once you have your interlock device installed, you will be given a Certificate of Installation by your service provider, which you may be required to show to your monitoring authority for review at scheduled times. Other states will electronically notify the authorities that your device has been installed. Make sure you understand your state’s requirements so you are compliant under the law.
What Gets Reported to Your State or Monitoring Authority?
This answer will vary depending on your state, as each has its own requirements for what will be reported, but generally, every report will contain the time and BrAC level of each breath sample that you give your interlock device, recorded by time. It will also note any missed rolling retests or any potential tampering events.
If you ever register a positive test for alcohol, you may also have your period of time with your interlock device extended. Missed calibrations, non-usage that seems out of your routine, or photo verification may also be reported.
Your Interlock Device is an Opportunity, Not a Penalty
You should view your interlock device as a privilege and opportunity rather than a punishment. This device offers you the freedom to drive and resume your responsibilities, even though you were found guilty of a DUI offense.
You will still be able to work, attend school, and resume your family responsibilities such as picking up and dropping off your children from their various activities. Should you complete your program, you will be able to safely and legally resume driving at your leisure. Having the device hopefully teaches you a valuable lesson on the dangers of drinking and driving that will carry on throughout your lifetime.
As an added bonus, many report that having an interlock device even saves them money because they are spending less on alcohol. And needless to say, it prevents you from being a danger to yourself or others on the road.
For more information on how an interlock device can help you stay legally compliant and on the road, check out our other posts on the Low Cost Interlock blog.