Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Should you fight for an ignition interlock device?

You made the mistake of driving when your blood alcohol concentration was too high. You may not have even realized it because you felt fine, but when an officer pulled you over, a breath test proved you wrong.

If no question regarding the accuracy of the breath test exists, you may find yourself facing a lengthy suspension of your driver's license. However, you may be able to drive if you agree to use an ignition interlock device. You just need to better understand what they are and how they work.

Taking a breath test to start your car

In the simplest terms, an ignition interlock device is a portable breath testing machine hard wired to your vehicle's power and control circuits. Your car will start if you pass the test (no alcohol on your breath). If the machine detects alcohol, it won't start. Beware, however. If you think you can fool the machine by asking someone sober to provide the breath sample so you can drive, you make a serious mistake.

As you drive, the IID requires you to provide additional breath samples at random intervals during your trip. If you fail one of those, you must pull over your vehicle and stop. In some jurisdictions, your horn may sound, or your lights may flash until you pull over onto the side of the road and shut off the engine. You must then wait until you can restart the vehicle, which means you must wait until the alcohol passes through your system.

You don't have to worry about the IID turning off your vehicle as you drive. That would be far too dangerous. You generally have a certain amount of time to pull off the road. Data periodically transmits to a central location for review. If you fail enough tests, the courts may not allow you to keep using the device, which means you would lose your right to drive.

It will cost you

The privilege of using an IID does not come cheap. You pay for the installation, periodic maintenance and monthly fees associated with the device. In addition, if you drive more than one vehicle, the state requires you to install an IID on each vehicle to prevent you from "cheating." If you can't afford the device, it may be possible to receive some financial assistance.

If you drive a company vehicle, you may qualify for an exemption. This may require additional paperwork that includes your employer. The inconvenience and cost of the device may be worth the ability to continue to drive to work and to take care of you and your family.

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