Consequences of Driving Under the Influence – Ignition Interlock

Many people are aware that Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol – that, driving with a blood alcohol limit of .08 or above (.02 for minors and .04 for CDL drivers) carries heavy consequences including expensive fines, and often mandatory periods of incarceration.  Many people are also aware that civil consequences, including a driver’s license suspension of either twelve or eighteen months, also follow a DUI conviction.  However, people are often surprised to learn that even after the license suspension, a requirement for Ignition Interlock is required on any second offense within a ten year period, including juvenile consent decrees and acceptance into accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD).

An ignition interlock system is a mechanical device installed on any motor vehicle which prevents the vehicle from being started or operated unless the operator provides a breath sample which registers below a .025% Blood Alcohol Content.  It is a device installed in your car that requires the driver to blow before the vehicle may be started.  The cost of installation and monitoring are the responsibility of the offender.

When discussing DUI cases with my clients, I find that people often have the following questions regarding ignition interlock devices:

Who Needs to Install Ignition Interlock?

According to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Ignition Interlock Devices need to be installed when a person is convicted or pleads guilty to Driving after Imbibing and within the past ten years, has a prior offense, including conviction, acceptance of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, adjudication of delinquency ,juvenile consent decree, or an offense under the current or former Driving Under Imbibing Statute, or has had their operating privileges suspended under for Driving with a Suspended License and a high Blood Alcohol Concentration, or illegally driving a vehicle without an Ignition Interlock Device.

Where Should an Ignition Interlock Device be Installed?

The Ignition Interlock Device needs to be installed on each motor vehicle owned by the person or registered to the person for the duration of the restricted period.  Installation must be done by an approved service provider using department-certified manufacturers of Ignition interlock system.

When Does an Ignition Interlock Device need to be installed?

The Ignition Interlock system may not be installed until the period of suspension for DUI is completed.  Meaning that an offender will first need to serve the twelve month license suspension where no driving is acceptable prior to installing the Ignition Interlock Device which allows restricted driving for a period of one year.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?

The Ignition Interlock Device measures the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content by requiring the driver to blow into the device initially before starting the vehicle.  If the Blood Alcohol Content is .025% or greater, the vehicle will not start and prevents a retest during “lock out” period.  The Ignition Interlock Device will also periodically signal the driver of the vehicle while in motion to provide a fresh breath sample.  If during the moving test, a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content is greater than .025%, the vehicle will not stop, but will attempt to notify authorities by sounding an alarm, blinking the headlights, and beeping the horn.