How Long Do I Need an Ignition Interlock Device?

January 31, 2019

If you have been ordered to utilize an ignition interlock device, you are probablyalso wondering how long you need to use the device for. Ignition interlockdevices essentially function as a breathalyzer that is integrated into yourcar’s ignition. Because these devices present an extra step before a vehiclecan be utilized, they do introduce a degree of inconvenience. This degree canbe greater or lesser depending on the specific type of ignition interlock device used, however, at a basic level all of these devices represent anadditional barrier to the operation of a motor vehicle.

Despite their widespread use as a deterrent to impaired driving, many people that arerequired to use an ignition interlock device wonder “how long do i need an ignition interlock device?”.Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. The length of timethat an individual must use an ignition interlock device is determined by avariety of factors, including whether it is their first offense, what theirprior offenses (if any) were for and when they occurred, and what the state lawon the subject dictates. As such, it is largely impossible to generalizesufficiently to answer how long an individual is required to use an ignition interlock device.

Laws Vary by State

One of the reasons it is difficult to assess the length of time that you will berequired to use an ignition interlock device is due to the fact that the lawsgoverning their use vary on a state by state basis. Thiswebsite can help you determine the ignition interlock laws on a state-by-statebasis. Let’s take a look at a couple so you can see how they may vary. First,let’s look at California. In California, an ignition interlock device may bewarranted on an individual’s first DUI, but this is at the court’s discretion.The use of an ignition interlock device is a higher priority if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is higherthan .15%, or roughly twice the legal limit. Additionally, if you have two ormore recent motor vehicle violations the use of an ignition interlock devicemay be more of a priority. Ultimately, in California, the court determines if an individual must use an ignition interlock device, and also for how longthey have to use the device. The stipulation in the law is that if an ignitioninterlock device is required its use may not exceed 3 years.

Next, let’s take a look at the legal requirements for using an ignition interlockdevice in Colorado. In Colorado, for first-time offenders with a low BAC, theuse of an ignition interlock device is 8 months. For individuals that have ahigh BAC, defined as a BAC over .15, they are required to use an ignitioninterlock device for 2 years. Interestingly, refusal to submit to a chemicaltest in Colorado also results in a 2-year requirement for using an ignition interlock device.[1]

In contrast to both Colorado and California, Connecticut may require an ignitioninterlock device for all offenders. If an individual has received a suspension,they may shorten the time period of that suspension through the use of an ignition interlock device provided they have already served 45 days of their suspension. Thereare four types of arrests that trigger the requirement to use an ignitioninterlock device on Connecticut. These are; operation of a vehicle while underthe influence, failure of a chemical alcohol test or refusal to submit to one,vehicular manslaughter, and vehicular assault. The time length that you mustuse an ignition interlock device varies depending on how many offenses you havehad, how old you are, and what your BAC was. For example, individuals under theage of 21 with a BAC over .02 must use an ignition interlock device for 1 yearon their first offense, 2 years after their second offense, and 3 years aftertheir third offense. This same timeline is used for individuals that refuse tosubmit to a chemical alcohol test. For individuals over the age of 21 with aBAC over .08, the first offense requires they use an ignition interlock devicefor 6 months, a second offense requires its use for 1 year, and a third offense requires use for 2 years.[2]

Closing Thoughts

As our examples have illustrated, it is difficult to outline exactly how long are required to use an ignition interlock device. In certain states, like California, the timeframe that you must use the device is largely determined bythe court itself. In other states like Connecticut, there are clear timeline requirements. These requirements are largely dependent on your age at the timeof the incident, your BAC, and your history. If you have multiple offenses you will be required to use the device for longer, up to a maximum of 3 years.These variations between states make it a necessity to refer to your state’sapplicable laws and the court order you received to determine exactly how long you need to use an ignition interlock device.




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