DUI is among the most severe offenses under the law. A punishment for drunk driving could include time in jail, a hefty court fine, and the suspension of your driver’s license. In most cases, the judge sentences the offender to probation instead of jail time, which means serving your sentence out of incarceration. You cannot drive anywhere with a suspended license, including to school, work, or the grocery store. But the judge can lift your driver's license suspension if you agree to install an Ignition interlock device system in your vehicle.

Even though you will be free to drive after a DUI conviction, an IID will stop your car if you have been drinking. The system works like a breathalyzer. You install it in your vehicle and provide random breath samples as you start the car and drive. Your car will not start if the breathalyzer detects alcohol in your breath. The system will also return that data to the court, which could trigger a rearrest.

Our skilled DUI attorneys at Koenig Law Office can help you understand everything you need to know about IIDs if the court has ordered you to install one in your vehicle. We will also discuss your options if you face DUI charges in Bakersfield.

What are Ignition Interlock Devices?

The law has adequate measures to stop drunk driving and its consequences, which include severe penalties for those convicted of DUI. To stop convicted drivers from committing DUIs while on probation, criminal court judges order them to install IID devices in all the vehicles they use. These devices are miniature breathalyzers that test your breath for signs of intoxication. If the court orders you to install the device, you will have it installed on your vehicle’s dashboard by a skilled technician at your cost.

Once the device is in your car, it will stop the car from starting unless you blow a breath sample free of alcohol. That will prevent you from operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Once you start driving, the device can randomly request another breath sample from you. If you fail to comply or give an alcohol breath sample, the device will fail.

Criminal court judges order the installation of IIDs to avoid repeat DUI offenses. A judge will likely impose this requirement on offenders who are likely to offend again while on probation. Judges rely on the belief that if a DUI defendant installs an IID in their vehicle, they will be less likely to operate the vehicle while intoxicated since the vehicle will not start. However, not all DUI offenders are ordered to have an IID in their cars, though many are.

IIDs can greatly inconvenience drivers. If the judge requires you to have the device in your vehicle, you will realize it is costly. This is especially true if you drive more than one vehicle. You will be ordered to have an IID in all your vehicles. IIDs are also very frustrating since the vehicle will not start even if you only have one drink. It is disappointing to tell others why you must breathe into a breathalyzer whenever you want to start your vehicle. But installing an IID and keeping it in your car for the required period without violations will allow you to reinstate your driver’s license sooner.

How Ignition Interlock Devices Work

Once the judge requires you to have an IID in your vehicle, you must look for a professional installer. The court will also expect you to provide proof of the installation to the DMV. Though the device is small in size (like the size of a mobile phone), it could determine how your DUI case ends. For example, failing to provide a breath sample or a sample with alcohol can trigger a rearrest and fresh DUI charges. It will also impact how long the DMV will suspend or revoke your driver’s license.

After installation, the device will require several breath samples to test for DUI, including the following:

  • When you are about to start your vehicle.
  • Between five and fifteen minutes after you start driving. This discourages drunk drivers from using other people to provide a false alcohol-free sample before starting the car.
  • More breath samples, at least once every forty-five minutes if you continue driving.

You will receive an alert whenever you need to breathe into the device. Once the device alerts you, providing a breath sample will take about six minutes. That should be enough time to find a safe spot to pull over your vehicle. If you fail to provide a sample within the given time, the device will fail.

Remember to have an IID in every car you drive, except for company cars and motorcycles.

You are required to pass the IID breath tests to continue driving. If that does not happen, the IID will not stop your car. Instead, it will fail and register the failure on the log it reports to the court. The court will immediately act to prevent more drunk driving cases on the roads.

Note: IIDs are designed so only the driver can give a breath sample. This is achieved through the following:

  • Registering only a particular pattern of the breath sample.
  • Having a short cord on the device that cannot reach the passenger seats.
  • Asking for random breath samples even when the driver is on the road.
  • Having a stringent law against anyone who could fraudulently provide their breath sample in place of the driver’s.

Additionally, the technology with which IIDs operate is very advanced in that it can detect and record the following:

  • Any attempt by the driver or anyone else to tamper with or disconnect the device.
  • Every time you start or stop the engine.
  • The results for all breath samples provided.

On top of installing the device and paying the necessary costs, you must pay for its maintenance every sixty days.

Circumstances Under Which You Must Install an IID

An order to have an IID in California follows a DUI conviction. Here are typical situations when the judge will issue this order:

  • After your first DUI conviction under VC 23152(a) for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, especially when your BAC is at or higher than 0.015%,
  • From your first DUI conviction to declining to take a BAC test after an arrest.
  • After the first DUI conviction under VC 23152(b) for operating a vehicle with a higher than standard BAC (at 0.08% or higher).
  • Under VC 14601 for violating your driver's license suspension after a DUI conviction.

Additionally, the judge will mandate that you have an IID in your car for the following reasons:

  • If you are a repeat DUI offender.
  • For violating VC 23153 (DUI with an injury).

Typically, criminal court judges order the installation of IIDs following the following DUI convictions:

First-Time Offenses

Even though a first DUI is a misdemeanor, it can require installing an IID if the judge sentences you to probation. It is the only way to continue driving freely after a DUI conviction. The period you must keep the device in your car could extend up to six months. If the judge does not find you guilty after your first DUI trial, but the DMV finds you liable, you will be required to install the device for four months.

Repeat Offenses

How long you must keep a functional IID in your vehicle after a repeat DUI depends on the number of prior DUI convictions within ten years. This is how judges determine how long you must keep the device in your vehicle:

  • One year for the second conviction.
  • Two years for the third conviction.
  • Three years for the fourth and subsequent convictions.

If you have a prior conviction for DUI causing an injury and receive another within ten years, the judge will order an IID installation for two years. A third conviction within ten years will result in IID installation for three years.

If a criminal court does not find you guilty of drunk driving, but the DMV finds you liable, the mandatory duration for IID installation will be one year, regardless of the number of prior DUI convictions on your record.

IID Installation For Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License

The law has separate IID installation requirements for drivers who violate their license revocation or suspension under VC 14601. Note that the suspension or revocation must have followed a DUI conviction for this requirement to apply.

The judge will require you to have and keep an IID in your vehicle for between one and three years based on the specific driver’s license violation you have committed and the number of prior offenses on your record.

IID Installation and Restricted Licenses

DUI convictions almost always result in a license suspension or revocation. When the DMV or criminal court suspends/revokes your license, you are not allowed to drive until you reinstate it after the suspension/revocation period. That could be as little as six months or as long as forever. Living without your driving privileges is difficult, mainly if you depend on them to go to work, school, the hospital, or for DUI treatment. That is why you can request a restricted driving license to specific places like work, school, and DUI programs.

However, the DMV only issues a restricted license if you install an IID on the car or cars you will be using. With the restricted license, you will only drive to specified places that you must go, like work, school, and any drug/alcohol program the court has ordered you to attend. Since your license is still suspended or revoked, you will not use your vehicle for any other reason. Installing an IID will keep you from operating the vehicle while intoxicated. But since recently, judges have been willing to allow convicted DUI offenders to drive anywhere, provided they install an IID in their cars for the required period.

Note: If the DMV or the judge requires you to have an IID, and you do not have a vehicle, you can request to be exempted from the requirement by the DMV. The filing will involve declaring that the car does not belong to you.

If you need an IID in your car, and the police arrest you for driving without the device, you will face criminal charges for violating probation, punishable by jail time.

The Cost of IID Installation

It must be at your expense to install an IID in your car. The cost of the installation can go up to $100. Additionally, it will cost you about $3 every day you have it in your vehicle. You will also be expected to pay for maintenance, service, and repair to keep the device functional for the required period. Remember that an IID is an electronic device that requires regular care and calibration to provide reliable results.

But you can apply for a fee waiver if you cannot afford the device. In that case, you will pay part of the cost.

On top of paying for the IID installation, the department will charge you about $103 in administrative fees. That is why you should fight your DUI charges to avoid a conviction and all the following penalties.

Finding an IID Installer

An IID specialist must do the installation of the IId. The court must also approve the specialist. Fortunately, most private IID installers in California are court-approved, making it easier to find one once you start looking. Here are examples of companies you can consider:

  • California Smart Start.
  • Intoxalock.
  • Guardian Interlock.
  • Alcohol Detection Systems.
  • Sens-O-Lock.

Court-approved companies are recommended to ensure the device is well-installed in your car. If not, it could start registering false results.

Most IIDs use fuel cell technology to operate. This kind of technology is specific to alcohol and cannot be affected by other external factors. It means minimal chances of registering false positive results because of perfume, gasoline, or cigarettes.

However, the device will register a positive result regardless of the alcohol in your system. The danger is that you could receive positive results even without consuming alcohol. If you drink or use an alcoholic substance, like pastry or mouthwash, the device will transmit a positive outcome to the court. That could land you in more legal trouble.

Fortunately, once the device registers a false positive, it will give you a second chance to retake the test. If you consumed something alcoholic right before the test, the levels of alcohol in your breath will likely disappear by the time you take the second test. You can rinse the mouth with water between the tests to avoid another false positive.

How To Avoid a Requirement to Have an IID

Installing an IID will have a significant impact on your life. Besides the cost implications, you must submit to random breath tests for several months or years, depending on how long you keep the device in your car. Thus, it helps to consider ways to avoid going through that. Here are ways to prevent a court order to have an IID in your car:

Through Pretrial Diversion

Pretrial diversion programs are available for lenient offenders facing misdemeanor, non-violent offenses. They enable you to undergo treatment and counseling before trial and sentencing. If you complete and benefit from the program, the judge dismisses your case and expunges your arrest records from your criminal history.

A skilled DUI attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor for you to join a diversion program if nobody sustained injuries or lost their life due to your DUI offense. But you must follow the requirements for the judge to dismiss your charges.

Putting a Solid Defense in Court

A skilled attorney can put together a solid defense to fight your DUI charges in court if you do not qualify for a diversion program. That would help you avoid a DUI conviction. Fortunately, DUI attorneys have a long list of legal defense strategies they can use to fight their client’s cases. Here are examples of techniques your attorney can use in your situation:

  • The police did not have probable cause for your arrest.
  • Your arrest resulted from a mistake in the facts.
  • There was a problem with the breathalyzer that tested your BAC.
  • You underwent an illegal search and seizure by the police.
  • The police stop and DUI investigation were unlawful.

Your attorney can also represent you during the DMV hearing to fight for the reinstatement of your driver’s license.

Find a Competent DUI Attorney Near Me

Have you received a DUI conviction in Bakersfield and are required to have an IID in your vehicle?

The requirement to have an IID following a DUI conviction can be devastating. Besides the cost implications, the device can significantly inconvenience you whenever you want to use your car. You need proper legal advice, guidance, and support to avoid this requirement. We can do that and more at the Koenig Law Office. Our extensive experience handling DUI cases lets us quickly study your case and advise you on your best options. Call us at 661-793-7222 to learn more about what we can do for you.