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What are ignition interlock devices and how do they work?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | DWI Defense |

Ignition interlock devices, also known as IIDs, can be a powerful means to prevent drunk driving. After installation in a vehicle, an IID requires the driver to take a breath test before starting the engine. If the breath sample contains alcohol above a pre-set limit, the car does not start.

New Jersey drivers can benefit from understanding the function of ignition interlock devices and their role in DWI cases.

DWI punishments

In New Jersey, IIDs are mandatory for most first-time and repeat DWI offenders. The length of time the device must remain in the vehicle depends on the offender’s history and the specifics of the DWI incident. Typically, for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% to 0.10%, the IID must remain for three months. For those with higher BAC levels, the length of this requirement increases. Penalties are also harsher for repeat offenders, with IID use being mandatory for up to three years.

Installation and use

Installing an IID is not free. Costs include installation fees and rental expenses. Some companies also charge for maintenance and data retrieval. A person with a DWI conviction must pay all these costs personally, which can become quite expensive. State-approved vendors perform the installation and ongoing service.

Once installed, an IID can significantly impact a driver’s routine. The device prevents the vehicle from starting if it detects a BAC of 0.05% or more and requires regular breath samples from the driver. Random re-tests can occur while driving, requiring drivers to provide breath samples at intervals. Failure to pass any test triggers alarms until the vehicle stops. Trying to start the car with a failed test or tampering with the IID carries severe penalties. These can include fines, extended IID use and even jail time.

Ignition interlock devices can be an effective method for reducing drunk driving incidents. However, they can also be personally and financially burdensome for drivers who must use them.