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Ignition Interlock Devices

As part of the DUI program here in California and Los Angeles, you may be required to install an “ignition interlock device.” We’ll discuss the specifics below, including what they are, when you are required to use them, and many other common questions.

However, if you are currently facing charges for a DUI, it may not be too late to avoid having to install one at all. A knowledgeable and experienced LA criminal defense attorney may be able to have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

William Kroger has been a trusted criminal defense attorney here in Los Angeles for decades, and, along with the rest of our team, has a proven history of protecting people from DUI charges and IID requirements. 

Contact us as soon as possible at 323-655-5700 or right here online for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An Ignition Interlock Device (or IID) is a small device that is connected between the car’s ignition system and the starter. It requires the driver to provide a breath sample to pass its onboard alcohol breathalyzer test.

If the driver fails the breathalyzer test, the IID prevents the car from being able to start by interrupting the signal between the ignition and the starter. The driver will have to wait until their BAC falls below an acceptable level before they are able to drive.

Even further, the device also requires the driver to provide breath samples even as the car is in motion. Once the device signals that it needs a “rolling test,” you have 6 minutes to pull over and complete it. Of course, many just provide the sample while driving if they feel safe doing so.

This prevents someone from simply giving the initial sample to start the car, then drinking as soon as the car starts. If the driver fails a test while driving, the engine will not shut off as this causes serious safety concerns.

Instead, every time a driving IID test is either failed or skipped, it will be logged and reported by the device to your IID record and the proper authorities will be notified.

When Am I Required to Use an IID in LA?

Not every DUI charge in LA requires the installation of an IID into your vehicle. It depends on the type of offense and the exact details, such as who may have been in the car with you.

However, there are two situations where the judge will always require the installation of an IID in LA:
  • If you’ve had a DUI of any kind before, you will be ordered to install an IID     
  • If your DUI causes bodily injury to another person at all (VC §23153), you will also be required to use an IID
Besides those two cases, the judge may use their discretion when deciding whether or not to require installation of an IID. 

The specifics of your case influence that decision, especially:
  • Your BAC (blood alcohol) level: The further your BAC was past 0.08%, the more likely you will be required to install an IID. Even BAC levels below 0.08% can still make the judge require you to use an IID.
  • Past record of driving offenses: If your past record shows an especially high amount of dangerous, reckless, or aggressive driving offenses, the judge may decide to require the installation of an IID.
  • History of driving with a suspended license: If you’ve had any DUI or DWI offenses in the past, or had your license suspended for similar convictions, and were caught driving anyway then it’s likely the judge will require the use of an IID.
  • Refusal to submit to a BAC test: Refusing to submit for either breath or blood testing to determining your BAC level can be a key piece of information the judge will use to decide.
In those situations, it just comes down to the specifics of your case.

Repeat DUI Offenses and IIDs in Los Angeles

As mentioned above, if you have repeated DUI offenses in California then the circumstances change and you will be required to keep the IID installed for longer:
  • First offense: 6 months minimum IID installation time
  • Second offense: 1 year
  • Third offense: 2 years
  • All subsequent offenses: 3-4 years
For DUI’s where another person sustained bodily injury as discussed above, the time ranges from 1 to 3+ years for the first, second, and third offenses respectively.

How Do I Install and Use an Ignition Interlock Device in My Car In Los Angeles?

Maybe you’ve already been ordered by the court or DMV to install and use an IID device. How do you begin?

Ignition interlock devices have to be installed by an auto repair shop certified by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs (BAR). A quick web search will bring up a list of certified shops near you, but you can also use the Department of Consumer Affairs License Search Tool by selecting “Automotive Repair Dealer” under “License Type.”

They will install a certified IID for you.

How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost in LA?

The fees required by the auto repair shop for installing and maintaining the IID vary, but you can expect to pay on average:
  • $50 – 200 for the installation of the IID
  • $2.00 to 2.50 daily for the maintenance and upkeep of the device
You are free to shop around and find the best price, so long as it is installed by a verified repair shop as discussed above.

What If I Can’t Afford an Ignition Interlock Device?

For some, the cost of both the installation and ongoing maintenance and calibration of an ignition interlock device in LA can make it an unrealistic option.

Fortunately, the government does provide some aid for those who are at or near the federal poverty level and are required by the court to install an ignition interlock device:
  • If your income is 100% of the federal poverty level, you only need to pay 10% of the cost
  • If your income is 101 to 200%, then you pay 25%
  • If your income is 201 to 300%, or you currently receive CalFresh benefits, you pay 50%
  • If your income is 301 to 400%, you pay 90% of the cost
If your income is 401% of the federal poverty level or greater, then you will be expected to pay the full cost. Additionally, no matter your income, you are required to pay any fees that come from non-compliance with the IID program.

If you cannot pay, no matter the reason, then you will not be allowed to operate any vehicle (including motorcycles) with the exception of some classes of moped or scooter which do not require a license to drive.

Can I Leave California with an IID Installed?

Yes, you can leave both Los Angeles and California with your IID installed in your vehicle if necessary. 

However, make sure that your planned time out of state does not interfere with the IID’s maintenance schedule. As discussed above, failure to bring the device in for scheduled maintenance every 60 days will be reported and you could lose your license entirely.

You can always bring your IID in to be serviced early before you leave on your trip.

Can I Install or Remove the IID Myself?

No. Installation, maintenance, and removal must be performed by a licensed IID provider and they will keep logs of all the work they do.

Ignition interlock devices are sophisticated and have methods of detecting whether a person has attempted to modify, remove, or otherwise tamper with them—and they will report any such activity to the appropriate authorities. 

Attempting to do anything to the IID yourself will likely land you with more consequences, including a full suspension of your license so you cannot drive even with an IID.

What If I Don’t Own a Car?

If you don’t own a car, then you will not be ordered to install an IID and will not be able to participate in the IID program, either from the courts or from the DMV. You’re exempted from the IID program and do not have to pay any of the fees associated with it.

If you become the legal owner of a car during a period which you are required to have an IID, then you will be responsible for installing an IID in the new car before you will be able to drive it.

Can I Rent a Car without an IID in California?

No. If you are convicted of a DUI and ordered to use an IID, then you cannot operate any car that does not have one installed. Similarly, you cannot rent a car in any other state. No car rental agency will allow you to rent a car from them with your restricted license.

Simply put, if you are required to have an IID installed, then you cannot drive any vehicle that does not have an IID installed, including cars that you borrow from friends or family. 

Do I Need an IID In California if I Had a DWI?

If it is your first offense and you were only under the influence of drugs and not alcohol, then you may not be required to install an IID as they only test for alcohol.

However, there will likely be other restrictions or treatment options you are required to complete depending on the type and severity of your drug related DWI.

Can I Still Drive with a CDL if I Have an IID Restriction?

No. If you are required to get an IID, then you have to downgrade your license to a restricted license. Unfortunately for commercial drivers, this means their CDL will be stripped and replaced with a restricted license, same as any other case.

What If I Need an IID and Have to Drive a Company Car for Work?

If you are required to install an IID in California but need to drive a company car for work, then you can still do so.

You are allowed to drive your company car with these requirements:
  • You can only operate the company vehicle when you are actually performing work for the company
  • You have to let your employer know of your new restricted license status       
  • You have to keep a copy of a “Notice to Employer” form in the car with you
However, this is only the legal requirements. Your company will likely have their own internal requirements to be granted access to a company vehicle, and being charged with a DUI may violate those requirements meaning you will not be able to drive for them any longer.

DUI’s and Ignition Interlock Devices in Los Angeles: How We Can Help

As you can see, being charged with a DUI and required to install an IID in your vehicle can have serious, long lasting effects on your life and potentially your employment status. We understand just how severe the consequences for a DUI can be. 

William Kroger has decades of experience as an LA criminal defense attorney helping protect people from having their life permanently altered. He, along with the rest of our legal team here, are a trusted presence in the LA criminal defense system and a have a long, proven track record of having DUI charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

The sooner you call us at 323-655-5700 or contact us here online, the sooner we can begin preparing your defense.

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