An Ignition Interlock Device, commonly known as an IID, is a breathalyzer device (the size of a cellphone) that is typically installed in your vehicle to detect alcohol in your breath. A person convicted of a DUI offense may be required to install an IID in their vehicle as a condition to get a restricted driver’s license. The device requires a driver to breathe into it before their car ignites. If the device detects alcohol in the breath, the car will not start. Most DUI convictions may result in license suspension. However, with excellent defense, your attorney from the  Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer can argue your case, and the court may order you to install an IID in your car to continue driving.

Understanding IID and How it Works

As earlier stated, an IID is an alcohol breathalyzer device that is small and installed in your car on the column holding the steering wheel. If you face DUI charges in California, a judge can sentence you to probation with various conditions that include:

  • Having an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle
  • If you have or drive other cars, having them installed with an IID. However, cars belonging to your employer and motorcycles do not get installed with IID.

The IID is used to prevent drunk driving. Before one starts their car, they are required to breathe into the device. If the breath is alcohol-free, the car can start. If one fails to blow or their breath has detectable alcohol, as a safety precaution, the car’s horn will start honking. Once you start driving, in five to 15 minutes, the device will request for breath samples randomly. After that, it will require you to breathe into it in intervals of 45 minutes to ensure you are still driving without alcohol in your system.

Every time the device requests for the breath samples, the driver has only 6 minutes to breath into it. This may require the driver to stop on the side and provide the sample, or if confident that they can give the sample safely as they drive, they can go ahead and do so.

The device will not disable the car if the driver does not pass the test. As a result, it will record the failure on the driver’s log, which is presented to the DMV or court. It is important to note that ignition interlock devices in California are designed in such a way that only the driver ordered by the court can give a breath sample. This means that a driver cannot get another person to breathe into the device and drive the car. This is achieved by:

  • The requirement for a particular pattern of breath for sample
  • The IID comes with a shortcode that cannot reach the passenger’s side or the back seats
  • The need for frequent samples as one drives
  • Asking another person to breathe into the device is a criminal offense

Additionally, the IIDs in California are made with advanced technology that can detect and record:

  • All attempts to tamper with or disconnect the device
  • The start and stop of the engine
  • All the results from the breath tests

To keep the device working optimally, it must be serviced after every sixty days.

When to Install an IID

When you face a DUI offense charge and are convicted of the offense, a judge can sentence you to have an IID installed in your car. The offenses that a judge can order for an IID installation are:

  • The first VEH 23153a offense of a DUI. This is more so if your BAC was 0.15% and above
  • The first time you refuse to agree to a breath or blood chemical test
  • The first violation of VEH 23152b where you are charged with driving with a BAC of 0.08% and higher
  • Violations of VEH 14601 where your license is suspended following a DUI conviction

Similarly, installation of an ignition interlock device can be ordered by the judge if:

  • You are a repeat DUI offender
  • You are convicted of VEH 23153 violations where you cause injuries due to DUI

Apart from situations that will have a judge ask you to have an IID in your car, there are other conviction scenarios where you will be required to install an ignition interlock device by the judge.

First DUI Offense

If you are a first time offender, you may be required to install your car with an IID. The period that you should have the device on after a conviction is normally six months. If you are not found guilty of the offense, but the DMV believes you are responsible, you would be required to install the device for four months.

A Repeat DUI Offender

When it is not your first time to face DUI allegations, it means you are a repeat offender. The law of California expects a judge to order the installation of the IID device for:

  • One year if convicted of a second DUI
  • Two years when convicted of a third DUI
  • Three years if sentenced for a fourth DUI and any other DUI conviction after that.

If your second DUI offense resulted in injuries to a third party, the law would require that you install the device for two years, and three years if you are a third-time offender.

Even when the court does not convict a defendant on a DUI offense, the DMV can find the defendant liable. The DMV will then require the defendant to have an IID installed in their vehicle for at least a year, regardless of whether it is a second or third-time conviction.

Mandatory Installation of An IID for VEH 14601 Violations

Driving with a suspended driver’s license is an offense, as described in VEH 14601. If you get convicted for driving with a suspended driver’s license and the suspension is due to a DUI conviction, you will be forced to install an IID. The period of having an IID installed in your car depends on the kind of violation and the number of prior DUI license suspensions you have. Once a judge puts this into consideration, you may be required to a mandatory IID installation for between a year and three years.

Installing IID as a Condition to Getting a Restricted Driver’s License

When you have been convicted of multiple or repeat DUI offenses, but still want to drive, you will need to apply for a restricted license. To qualify for it, the DMV will ask you to have an IID. With a restricted driver’s license, you can drive back and forth to work, school, DUI school, or hospital as long as your license is revoked or suspended.

From the beginning of 2019, however, individuals convicted of a DUI offense can get a restricted license and drive to any place, provided they have an IID installed.

The Price of an IID

An IID in California will cost you $2.50 a day. However, the charges for installation are separate, with the average cost ranging between $75 and $100. Some companies will also require that you pay for the cost of calibrating and maintaining the device. The law on the pilot program for IID in California, as found in VEH 237000, when a person is unable to afford the costs associated with an IID, they can pay part of the price.

However, to qualify to pay for a part of the cost, it is guided by the poverty level, as stated by the federal government. To verify the income levels of individuals, certain documents are needed to be presented to the installer. They include:

  • Your income tax returns to the federal government for the previous year
  • Statements of your monthly or weekly income for the past three months
  • Verification from the Employment Development Department (EDD) of your unemployment benefits

If it is established that you are not qualified to have the installation fees reduced, then you will be needed to pay the full amount for the IID installation and monitoring fees.

Finding an Approved Installer for an IID

Not every dealer is authorized to install an IID in your vehicle. When the court orders you to have an IID device in your vehicle, you must find an installer authorized by the court. The court has approved several companies to install IID devices in California. There are several of these companies in Orange County, and you can find them through the DMV.

False Results by an IID

Many of the IID devices operate using fuel cell technology. This is an alcohol-specific technology that cannot be affected by external interferences. As a result, it is nearly impossible for an IID device to register false results because of gasoline, perfume, or cigarette smoke.

However, anything that has alcohol and is blown into the IID will be recorded. This means a person that uses alcohol-based mouthwash, eats candy filled with liquor, or eats pastry can breathe into the IID device, and it records alcohol.

Fortunately, an individual, despite the registering of alcohol, is allowed to retake the test within a short period. A second test will show that you have no alcohol because the alcohol level in such situations does not last. If possible, use water to rinse your mouth before breathing into the IID device.

Requirements for Installing an IID

If you are ordered to install an ignition interlock device by the DMV or a judge, there are various requirements you must fulfill. These include:

  • Provide a verification document of the ignition interlock to the DMV. This is known as the DL 924
  • You will be required to pay administrative fees of $45
  • You will be expected to serve the period your license is suspended
  • Provide a certificate for insurance proof known as SR-22
  • Make payment for the cost of installation of the device
  • Get a court-authorized installer to install the device professionally
  • Have the device in all the vehicles you drive or own apart from motorcycles

Monitoring and Calibration of an IID Device

After having your vehicle installed with an IID, the device must be calibrated and inspected every 60 days or less. An authorized installer is the only one allowed to service and calibrate the device. He or she ensures the proper functioning of the IID device, and no violations have been registered, like failure to take random tests.

If the installer finds out that you have not been complying with the requirements of an IID, a report is made. This can lead to your driving privileges revoked or suspended. Some violations require the DMV to revoke or suspend your restricted license without warning. For instance, if it is established that you tried to remove, bypass it, or tamper with it, your restricted license can be revoked or suspended. Failure to comply with the IID requirements, such as ensuring it is well maintained and calibrated, can also result in the suspension of the license.

If your restricted driver’s license has been suspended due to any of the above, it is still possible to restore it. You will need to apply again and present a new receipt for a DL 920 to the DMV. The DMV will then evaluate and decide whether to reissue a restricted license or stay their decision.

The Noncompliance of an IID

As earlier discussed, failure to comply with the requirements for an IID restriction can result in the suspension of your restricted driver’s license. Noncompliance of IID includes:

  • One time failure to service the device in the recommended sixty days
  • Failing with the maintenance requirement of three times or more or its calibration in sixty days
  • Bypassing or trying to bypass the device
  • Interfering with the working of the IID device
  • Trying to remove the device when the period ordered to have it on is not completed.

Consequences for IID violations

Despite being ordered to install an IID, some drivers may fail to do it at the time the court expects them to. Additionally, they may obey the installation date but invent ways to trick the device. Some of the common violations concerning the IID device is trying to bypass or disable it. A driver may attempt to interfere with the components that connect it to their car so that it does not record anything.

Some drivers also try to get another person's breath into the device. Although it is hard to succeed in this, it does not mean that drivers do not attempt to do it. Failing to have the device serviced and calibrated as recommended is also a violation. When the IID device is periodically calibrated and maintained, it ensures the results remain accurate, and the authorities can monitor your records.

When a person is found in violation of the IID requirements, they will face severe consequences. The individual may have the period for their license suspension extended or complete revocation. This is dependent on how grave the violation is.

California is stringent when it comes to IID violations. A violation, in many cases, will result in the impounding of your vehicle. This is in addition to being prosecuted for driving with a revoked or suspended license.

Many people feel driving with an IID is bothersome, but it is an excellent way to ensure safe driving. Driving with an IID restricted license is better than losing your driving privileges altogether. If you want to keep driving, you must obey the laws when it comes to drunk driving.

Commonly Asked Questions

After understanding the workings of an IID and when one can be ordered to install it, many people still have questions about the device. Here, we will answer some of the questions that are frequently asked by most people.

Can your Vehicle be Damaged from an IID?

No. The IID device cannot cause any harm to your vehicle or damage it in any way. The IID is attached to your vehicle’s wiring, avoiding any damage from happening. After the period the IID is required to stay on, the installers can return the wiring to its former condition. However, when a person does not look out for professionals to install it, it is possible to get your car spoilt. Equally, an attempt to get out of the device by yourself can also cause damages.

Can you trick the device?

It is almost impossible to trick the device. The IID registers a specific pattern of breath that is impossible to imitate. Some devices come with installed cameras that record the person giving the breath. Other times, the device can request the person giving the sample to breathe in to confirm it is not an animal but a human being. Remember everything you do the device records. If you try to trick it, it is unlawful and can trigger prosecution against you.

Are IID devices required in all the counties?

In California, it does not matter which county you come from. If you are convicted of a DUI offense, you can be required to install an IID from any county.

When ordered to get an IID, how soon should I have one installed?

When ordered to install an IID, it means you cannot drive without it similarly because your license is on suspension. One can only apply to have a restricted license once they have installed the device. Depending on the offense, the law provides for when a person can apply for a restricted license. One of the requirements to qualify for a restricted license is to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car. Following the guidelines on when one can apply for a restricted license can help you understand when to have an IID device in your car.

What happens if one doesn’t own a car?

Maybe you were not driving your car when you were arrested for a DUI offense. In the sentencing, the judge orders you to have an IID installed in your car. Because you cannot prove that you have installed it when you do not have a car, it may not be possible to get a restricted driver’s license. In this case, one can request to be exempted from installing an IID. To do this, one will use the DL4O55B form and hand it to a DMV field office. Alternatively, you can send it as a mail to the Driver Licensing Mandatory Actions Unit in thirty days from the day you notice of your license revocation or suspension.

For a first time offender, what happens after I complete the four to six months of IID driving, and can I get my standard driver’s license reinstated?

If you are from one of the pilot counties with a first time DUI offense after installing your IID, you can remove it after the period ordered. When this is done, your restriction for an IID is lifted, but you continue using a restricted driver’s license to drive to specific places. After completing the period where your license is suspended, it is when you will get your regular license.

Does an IID shut off the car from starting?

No. The IID device will not shut off the engine of your car. However, should you fail the alcohol breath test, the device will cause the car’s horn to sound. The lights will also flash and only stop if you pass the test or shut down the engine.

When a person fails the test, what happens?

If your car is installed with an IID and you fail the alcohol breath test, the IID device will lock for a few minutes. If you try again and still fail, the period for the lockout will last longer.

Consult an Experienced DUI Attorney on IID Issues Near Me

Our attorneys from the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer can defend you to possibly get your DUI charges dismissed. If this does not happen, we may convince the court to reduce your punishments, and you may still be able to drive by installing an IID. Call us at 714-820-9592 to get expert legal help on DUI issues from some of Orange County’s top legal minds.