Installing an Ignition Interlock Device in CA

Installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) After a DUI Conviction

Many people convicted of DUI could be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in their car. An ignition interlock device (“IID”) is a machine that attaches to a car, and requires the driver to give a breath sample before the car can start. There are obvious reasons why a person would not want to have an IID. Simply having the device can be embarrassing; nobody wants to have to explain to another person why they have to have it installed. But an IID can be burdensome in other ways, as well. An IID costs money to install, and it usually requires monthly maintenance fees which make the device even more costly. Also, if you are ordered to install and maintain an IID in your car for a certain period of time, you cannot drive any car without an IID during that time period. This can become especially problematic for many working professionals who are expected to drive multiple vehicles on the job, as an IID probably cannot be affixed to a company van or to a rental taken out for a business trip out of town. 

I was arrested for DUI. Will I have to install an IID?

Fortunately, an IID is not necessarily inevitable from a DUI arrest. But the applicable rules can be confusing. The law has changed in recent years with regard to who is “required” to get an IID and who is not. For some time, the state of California ran a “pilot program” that required IID installation for anyone convicted of DUI, even as a first offense, in Alameda, Tulare, Sacramento, and Los Angeles Counties. This is no longer the law, but people arrested for DUI in those counties can still expect “mandatory IID” if their arrest occurred before 2019. The law has also changed so that some people could “choose” to install an IID in order to secure a different type of restricted license. Putting aside whether any of these are good policies, the recent changes in the law can prove confusing. 

IIDs can only be purchased through private providers. These companies have an interest in peddling their devices to anyone arrested on suspicion of DUI, even if, in reality, they will probably never have to install one. But these “sales pitches” often capitalize on the very real anxiety and confusion that people face when facing DUI charges. After all, if a person is convinced that they might have to install an IID, they are much more likely to buy one from the company who convinced them!

When is Installing an IID Mandatory?

The truth is that some people arrested for DUI will have to get an IID, and others will not have to. The below chart outlines various situations where IID is “mandatory”, meaning that IID is required, no matter what the circumstances:

The above only shows situations where an IID is automatically required. But the Court can still decide on its own to order IID as a condition of the defendant’s probation, even if it is not mandatory! Many judges might be reluctant to do this, feeling that it might be a waste of resources to monitor another condition of probation where it is not needed, other judges feel differently, and still others might feel that they can and should order the defendant to install an IID in an appropriate case.

Example: A defendant is convicted of DUI as a first offense. The defendant is given probation along with several other terms, including mandatory fines, DUI school, and jail time served through a work alternative program. The facts of the case are somewhat unremarkable – there is no accident and testing showed that their BAC was approximately 0.14, and the defendant has no prior DUI convictions. But suppose at sentencing, the judge learned that the defendant had several prior convictions for public intoxication and for an assault that appeared to be alcohol-driven, all within the past two years. Concerned that the defendant might have a serious alcohol problem that they are not managing well, the judge orders the defendant to install an IID as a condition of their probation. The defendant is certainly unhappy about this, but the judge probably has the right to order this as a condition of the defendant’s probation. In situations like this, the defendant should work closely with their attorney ahead of time and try to strategize around the possibility of an IID order.

Can I get a restricted license without Installing an IID?

No. Recent changes in the law have created a new type of restricted license for people who choose to install an IID. A restricted license usually requires someone to wait out a certain time at the beginning of their suspension period before getting one, and even then, they can only drive to and from work and to and from their DUI school. However, starting in 2019, a person who suffers a DUI-related license suspension can skip that initial waiting period and drive wherever they please, so long as they install an IID in their car. 

Despite the many drawbacks that come with an IID, some people might choose this option if they want to get back on the road quicker and they only expect to drive their own car for the foreseeable future. But it should be noted that the “regular” type of restricted license – where you go through a “waiting period” at the start of your suspension and accept restrictions on where you can drive is also an option, as well. Many IID providers might reference the recent change in the law to say “you need to get an IID if you want a restricted license”, but they neglect to mention that another type of restricted license-which does not require an IID-is still available to many people dealing with DUI charges. 

Can I avoid installing an IID if I just decide not to drive?

Probably not, at least for the purposes of DMV. If IID is a condition of getting your driving privileges back, then the DMV will always require you to have an IID for whatever that time period is and this depends on whenever you decide to start driving. This means that, where someone suffers a license suspension and the DMV orders them to get an IID installed, they do not “get around” or “avoid” the IID order simply by not driving at all during the suspension period. When they try to apply for a new license, the DMV will likely tell them that they still have to have an IID for a certain amount of time.

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Hiring a California DUI Lawyer?

Our Bay Area DUI lawyers are experienced in getting cases dismissed or earning you the best possible outcome, but it does take work. Being arrested for a DUI can be devastating. It can affect your job, professional licenses, immigration status, and can cause embarrassment. Our job is to get involved early on in the case, reduce that stress, and handle all of the steps of fighting your case. Whether that means going to trial or securing you the best possible plea deal, we do it all.

If you are ready to discuss your case with a VIRTUOSO CRIMINAL & DUI LAWYERS attorney, please contact us at (510) 988-5566 for a free and confidential consultation.