Ignition Interlock Device Questions

Question: What is an ignition interlock device?

A: An ignition interlock is a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath before allowing them to start their vehicle. These devices also require periodic retests while the vehicle is running. Test results are recorded in the device, as well as when the engine is started and what times of day the vehicle is being used. Violations failed tests, and missed retests are all recorded by the ignition interlock device.

Question: How much does an ignition interlock device cost?

A: There are a number of different factors that can contribute to the cost of an ignition interlock device. Some companies that sell these devices offer a single model while others offer a variety of choices based on specific needs or court-ordered requirements. These devices can range from $40-100 a month and also have an installation fee that can cost between $70 and $150.

Question: How does an ignition interlock device work?

A: The breathalyzer is installed into the vehicle and forces the driver to provide a sample of their breath by blowing into a mouthpiece that is attached to the interlock device. If the device detects a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the programmed limit, it prevents the engine from starting. The vehicle can’t be started until the driver provides a passing breath sample.

Question: How long does the device have to be installed in my vehicle?

A: The amount of time that an ignition interlock device must be installed in your vehicle will depend on the terms of your DUI conviction and the state you live in. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) says that the majority of first offenders have to have the device in their vehicles for 1 year after the end of the license suspension or revocation period. For second or subsequent offenders, the interlock device must be installed for 2 years. However, in Rhode Island, for a first offense DUI, an ignition interlock device may only be required for as little as four months depending on the facts and circumstances of the arrest.

Question: Who installs the device?

A: A certified ignition interlock installer must handle and set up the equipment in a vehicle. Those who have been convicted of a DUI cannot install or uninstall their own ignition interlock device.

Question: Can you get an ignition interlock device on a motorcycle?

A: Due to the risk involved, most companies will not install ignition interlock devices on a person’s motorcycle.

Question: Do ignition interlock devices prevent DUIs?

A: Studies have shown that up to 90% of drivers who have had interlock devices installed in their vehicles, successfully drive again without getting another DUI offense. These figures are favorable when compared to offenders who have not participated in an Interlock Program.

Question: Are these devices accurate in their readings?

A: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established guidelines that all ignition interlock device manufacturers must adhere to. Independent laboratories also test interlock devices to make sure they meet NHTSA’s strict criteria.

Question: What happens if I fail a breath test on the device?

A: After a failed breath test is registered, the device will temporarily lock out the driver for a period of time. This period of time increases for each test that fails following the initial reading. The lockout period allows the alcohol to leave the driver and gives them time to consider why they have to blow into the device in the first place.

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