Ignition Interlock Devices: What You Should Know

California carries strict penalties for drivers found driving under the influence (DUI). Some include a revocation of your driver’s license and heavy fines. However, one penalty stands out from the rest. The ignition interlock device.

You may be required to install this device if found guilty of DUI. As much as the device is popular in this state, many have no idea what it is, how it works or the penalties for going against it. In this article, we’ll take a look at what IIDs are, how they work and what you need to know about it.

What Are IIDs?

Ignition Interlock Devices are small machines connected directly to your car’s ignition system. The main aim of this device is to determine blood alcohol content, BAC, levels. Some of these devices come with a monitor placed on the dashboard with a possible camera.

How Do IIDs Work?

Since this device is a penalty imposed on drunk drivers, its sole purpose is to ensure that drivers don’t drive under the influence [of alcohol or other drugs]. Before starting the car, you have to exhale into the small tube accompanying the device.

Since the device is connected to the ignition system, the car won’t start if the BAC levels exceed the preset level. In addition, you will have to wait for some time before you can attempt another start. It doesn’t stop there. Once the car is on and moving, you might need to keep breathing into the tube to keep your car on the move.

All the information in the IID including the BAC levels, rolling tests, and startup attempts are stored in the device. The data is then sent to law enforcement agencies the next time you go for routine maintenance of the device which is often after 30 days.

Number of Violations

The number of violations will determine how long you’ll have to move around with the device. If it’s the first violation, you might have the IID in your car for about 5 to 12 months. For 2 violations, you’ll have to move around with the device for 2 years while 4 violations will cause you to get charged with a felony.

What You Need to Know to About IIDs

  • All Expenses are On You: After the court directs you to install an IID, you will have to pay for a technician to have it fixed in your car. You’ll also have to buy the device with its prices ranging from $2.50 per day and no more than $100 for installation.
  • Cheating or tricking the device is an offense: Any form of tampering with the device results in a criminal offense. This includes letting family members or friends take the test for you. All drivers who use your car should exhale into the tube before starting the car.
  • Some types of foods can give a bad reading: Mouthwash, food and some non-alcoholic drinks can give off a positive reading. Experts advice waiting for no less than 20 minutes after eating before attempting a start.

Whether or not you are found guilty of DUI, the above tips will help you deal with the IIDs to avoid unnecessary confrontation with law enforcement.


Tom Brown
Tom Brown is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United States. He holds a diverse background in automotive marketing and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.