Meet with an attorney

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

DUI Penalties: Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition Interlock Devices
Beginning in 2017, Ohio law was changed to place a major emphasis on the use of ignition interlock devices to reduce the length of driver’s license suspensions and to expand the type of driving privileges granted while a license was suspended. Under the previous law, when a driver’s license was suspended, driving privileges were usually limited to only driving during certain hours and days and only for work, school, or medical purposes. However, under the new law, if a driver agrees to have an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle, the driver can get unlimited driving privileges, which essentially allows you to drive for any reason while under suspension.

What Are Ignition Interlock Devices?

An ignition interlock device, otherwise known as an interlock system, is a breathalyzer that is installed in your vehicle and connected to the vehicle’s ignition system that will prevent you from being able to start your vehicle if you attempt to drive while intoxicated. Ohio Revised Code section 4501-45 defines an ignition interlock device as “a device approved by the director of public safety that connects a breath analyzer to a motor vehicle’s ignition system, that is constantly available to monitor the concentration by weight of alcohol in the breath of any person attempting to start the motor vehicle by using its ignition system, and that deters starting the motor vehicle by use of its ignition system unless the person attempting to start the vehicle provides an appropriate breath sample for the device and the device determines that the concentration by weight of alcohol in the person’s breath is below a preset level.”

In Ohio, you will face both an administrative suspension of your driver’s license after you are arrested for a DUI/OVI offense as well as a criminal suspension if you are convicted of the offense. Beginning in 2017 with “Annie’s Law,” your suspension for your first DUI/OVI offense will be a year. However, you may be able to shorten that suspension by as much as half if you agree to install a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and if this is not your first DUI offense, you may even be required by the court to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle when you are able to drive again.

If an interlock device is required, you must first obtain an Interlock License from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), provide proof of insurance, make an appointment with the probation department and schedule an installation appointment for a certified ignition interlock device. You should be careful to choose an interlock device provider that is certified in Ohio, has a location that is convenient for you, has no history of suspensions or decertifications, and has an ignition interlock device that is easy-to-use. The installation for your device should take less than an hour, depending on your vehicle, and the device will not damage your vehicle. You will also have to have your interlock device recalibrated every 30-90 days, and this calibration can be done at the installer’s service center and should only take a few minutes. During the calibration, a technician will unplug your interlock device and put it on a calibration dock to run a series of quick tests. If you get a new vehicle while required to have an interlock device, you must switch the device to your new vehicle immediately.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?

If the device has been installed in your vehicle, it will have a mouthpiece like a straw, and you will have to blow into this mouthpiece any time that you attempt to start your vehicle. If your breath alcohol concentration is higher than the predetermined limit, the interlock device will prevent your vehicle from starting. The device may also be programmed to require you to perform a “rolling retest,” which will require you to breath into the device while operating your vehicle whenever the device prompts you to do so. If you fail to breathe into the device to provide a sample, or if your BAC is over the limit, the interlock device will give a signal to stop your vehicle and will turn off your engine after the vehicle has stopped.

The data from your ignition interlock device is stored in the device’s memory where it can be uploaded to the device provider’s database and made available to the court so that court officials will be able to determine whether there has been an interlock violation.

If this is your first DUI offense, you can install the ignition interlock device for limited driving privileges, or you may be granted unlimited driving privileges with the requirement that you must install the interlock device on your vehicle. However, if this is not your first DUI offense, the ignition interlock device is mandatory, or it may also be ordered by the Ohio BMV as a condition of receiving limited driving privileges for your administrative license suspension. You must have your interlock device installed by a certified interlock provider in Ohio, and you will have to pay the installation fee for the device as well as a monthly rental fee. Ignition interlock devices will typically cost between $60 and $90 per month. You must also provide proof to the court that you have installed an interlock device in your vehicle before the court will grant you driving privileges.

Violations of ignition interlock orders include operating your vehicle without the ignition interlock device, attempting to circumvent the device or tampering with it, or having a prohibited concentration of alcohol in your breath sample measured by the interlock device. If the court decides that you have violated your ignition interlock order, the judge may decide to terminate your driving privileges or to require you to use a Secure Remote Alcohol Monitoring (S.C.R.A.M.) device. If the violation occurred while you had unlimited driving privileges, the court may also impose a jail sentence upon you.