How a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device Works

Published: 10th May 2010
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More and more states are requiring first time DUI offenders to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device in their vehicle in order to have their driving privileges reinstated following their drivers license suspension or revocation period. An ignition interlock system is basically a device that registers a person's blood alcohol level before their vehicle will start.

Each state will have its own preset limits for vehicle operation with an ignition interlock device installed. These limits are typically set at between .02% up to a maximum of .04% allowable blood alcohol concentration. As long as the vehicle operators BAC level is below the preset limits, the vehicle will start. If the ignition interlock device registers a reading above the preset limit, the vehicle operator will have to wait 30 minutes before they will be able to attempt to start the vehicle a second time.

Before the operator can start their vehicle they will be required to blow into the handheld portion of the ignition interlock device for at least 3 seconds allowing the device ample time to collect the required breath sample. If the driver's BAC level is below the preset limit the device will beep and give them a green light to start their vehicle.

Typically after the vehicle has been running for 10 minutes the breath alcohol ignition interlock device will beep requesting another breath sample in order for the vehicle to continue operating. Then depending on the courts requirements the ignition interlock device will continue to request breath samples every 15 to 30 minutes during operation.

The reason for the frequent breath sample requests is so that a DUI offender who has been drinking does not ask a friend to blow into the device in order to start their vehicle and then be able to drive off. If a DUI offender were to try this, at the second sample request interval, if the ignition interlock device does not receive the required breath sample, the unit will continue to beep and the vehicle's lights will start to flash and the horn will start to sound warning the driver that the vehicle is going to be disabled in a matter of seconds.

All though many people who end up having to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle following a DUI offense find the device to be a nuisance, the installation of an IID has proven to be an effective deterrent for a future DUI offenses due to the embarrassment and monthly costs that the device places on those who must have one installed in order to drive legally.

Depending on which state a person lives in, first time offenders may be required to have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for up to one year or potentially longer depending on the court's requirements. First time offenders who must install an ignition interlock device for 1-year in their vehicle will be looking at a out of pocket cost of roughly $1,100 which includes the installation cost of roughly $200 and a monthly leasing fee of approximately $75.

To find out which states require a breath alcohol ignition interlock device for first time DUI offenders it's important to learn your state's DUI laws regarding the installation of ignition interlock devices.

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