When a driver gets a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, they could face several penalties including fines, jail time, license suspension and a requirement to perform community service. Sometimes, the court might also ask a driver to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their cars as part of their punishment.
The requirement to install an IID is typically reserved for repeat DWI offenders in some U.S. states. But in New Jersey, IIDs are mandatory for everyone convicted of DWI, regardless of whether it’s their first or third offense.
How IIDs work
IIDs ensure that a would-be driver is sober enough to operate an automobile. Connected to a vehicle’s ignition system, IIDs require the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before they can start the engine. If the IID detects a high alcohol concentration level from the driver’s breath, it will prevent the car from starting.
The devices can also prompt drivers for random breath tests while driving. If drivers fail to take these retests, the devices can send the vehicle into “panic mode.” In panic mode, the car’s lights constantly flash and its horn blares until the driver blows into the mouthpiece.
How much do IIDs cost?
Drivers can’t purchase IIDs but instead must lease them from approved installers. Renting an IID costs about $2.50 to $3.50 a day. This amount may initially sound small, but courts can order even first-time DWI offenders to have IIDs on their vehicles for up to seven months.
DWI offenders also face fines between $250 and $1,000 (depending on the number of prior convictions), plus an annual surcharge of $1,000 for three years. All these expenses can quickly add up, in addition to the IID rental costs.
Dealing with an IID on top of the other penalties of a DWI charge can hurt your finances. While IID installations are mandatory in New Jersey, you might be able to challenge the fines and surcharges you face from a DWI conviction with the help of a criminal defense attorney.