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What to Consider when Facing the Possibility of an Ignition Interlock Device

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2016 | DUI

Now that you’re facing the frightening charge of a DUI, you’re probably also facing another frustrating situation. You’re hearing unfamiliar terms that are doing nothing but further confusing and possibly even intimidating you. One of these terms you might have heard is ignition interlock device (IID) and the related term ignition interlock license (IIL). You may be wondering, “What is this? Is this something I should get? Is this something I should avoid? Are there ways I can avoid it?” We can give you generalized answers but every case is different. The best way to get answers specific to your case is to get a DUI defense attorney who will compassionately counsel you as to the best options in your particular case.

An ignition interlock device is kind of like your own personal breathalyzer with one very important difference. It is connected to your car’s ignition system. If you breathe into it and it detects any alcohol your car will not start and a report is sent to the IID vendor. Plus it will signal for periodic checks while you’re driving. Due to safety issues they aren’t usually manufactured to stop the car if you do not provide a breath sample for a test or fail the test. What will happen is that your car will act like you tripped a burglar alarm with horn honking and lights flashing until you either take the test or pull over and stop the car. In both cases the report is sent to the IID provider. An ignition interlock device license is a license that says you can drive only with a vehicle that has an IID installed. You would have this either because you applied for one or because the court has ordered you have such a license and device installed.

Now you’re probably thinking, “This sounds like a hassle. Why would I ever want this and actually apply for this?” Believe it or not there are reasons why you might want to apply for an IIL. The main reason is that it lets you drive right away with no worries about a DOL suspension. In Washington if you are charged with DUI, your license is immediately sent to the DOL for an administrative suspension. What if you need your vehicle for employment and can’t afford to worry about that or go through the process of the hearing to challenge the revocation, or you lose the DOL hearing?What if your DUI defense attorney believes it’s unlikely they can get the suspension action dismissed? What if you do go through the hearing and your license is ultimately suspended? You can still apply for an IIL and start driving right away. Secondly, maybe you would like some outside help. If you or your family is worried about an alcohol problem or the risk that this might happen again then the installation of an IID may give you and them some peace of mind about your safety as well as that of others on the road.

Now you may be thinking, “OK, those sound like some good reasons to get it. Why do I not want  an IID?” First, as you may have originally thought, many drivers do consider it a hassle. Next, it’s not cheap and the cost falls to you. There is an installation fee, there is a rental fee, there is a maintenance fee, there are monthly monitoring costs and there is a removal cost. The average person finds that it costs between $1500-2000 to be on an IID for just one year. Plus, even though employers’ vehicles, even temporary ones, are exempted; your employer does need to sign an affidavit which can be intimidating and embarrassing for you to ask for one and it might impact your job. Plus, the IIL does not look like a regular driver’s license and there are few, if any, rental companies that will accept an IIL, so it would not help a traveling businessman. Plus, the IID is not foolproof, it has been known to give false readings and yet those are still reported.

So, there are reasons to consider getting one and there are reasons to consider avoiding one. You will want the counsel of your DUI defense attorney. Whatever you choose, if you’re convicted of DUI, it then becomes a court ordered requirement for at least a year.

So, you’re probably definitely wondering, “How do I avoid that?” Your three best options are winning a not guilty verdict, getting the charge dropped or getting the charge reduced to something that does not have an IID penalty like reckless driving, reckless endangerment or negligent driving. You will want the counsel and defense of your Seattle Tacoma DUI defense to figure out which of these strategies works best in your case. We will get you your best result possible. Please call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free.