Can You Still Buy Alcohol While You’re in an Ignition Interlock Device Program?

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, chances are good that you have to get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed as part of getting your full driving privileges back. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have state ignition interlock device laws that spell out who has to get one.

Ignition interlock device programs are designed to keep you from getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking. They are NOT designed to prevent you from buying alcohol. So yes, you can still buy alcohol while you’re in an ignition interlock device program.

You can still have a drink at happy hour with friends. You can still drink wine with dinner. You can be the one to purchase all of the alcohol. You just can’t drive drunk.

If Your IID Program Includes a Substance Abuse Treatment Component

Some DUIs are the result of a stupid mistake. Other DUIs are the result of a genuine substance abuse problem. Your DUI lawyer, the courts, and the state you live in will determine if you must get substance abuse treatment as part of your IID program. Substance abuse treatment is often mandated for repeat offenders or offenders with high blood alcohol content (BAC).

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), research shows that ignition interlocks are more effective at preventing drunk driving if they are used in conjunction with substance abuse treatment.

While you can still buy alcohol while you’re in an ignition interlock device program, buying alcohol if your program includes substance abuse treatment is certainly frowned upon. You will want to check with your DUI lawyer and your state IID laws to determine what the specifics are. Buying alcohol usually means you plan on drinking it. Drinking may violate the conditions of your program. And keep in mind that some programs require you to submit to random BAC testing.

What the Ignition Interlock Device Monitors

So to be clear, the ignition interlock device does not keep track of if you go into a restaurant and buy yourself a drink, or if you go to the liquor store. It only keeps track of if you have been drinking when you attempt to start the car, or if you start drinking while you are actively driving.

Your IID requires you to submit a breath sample every time you want to start your car. If the device detects an amount of alcohol prohibited by your state (generally 0.02% BAC), it will prevent you from starting the car. If your breath sample is clean, you can start the car. And once you are driving, the device will notify you to give random samples in what is called rolling retests. These are required to make sure you didn’t start drinking after you had already started the car.

If you fail or skip a rolling retest, the ignition interlock device WILL NOT stop your vehicle in the middle of the road. Depending on your state’s requirements, your horn may start honking or your lights may start flashing. The idea is to get you to stop driving until you can submit a clean breath sample. The device records the results of every startup test, and every rolling retest. These results are submitted to your monitoring agency. Various penalties for failing a number of startup tests or rolling retests will be spelled out in your paperwork.

Penalties can include:

  • Extension of the time you must have the IID installed
  • Fines
  • Potential jail time
  • Being kicked out of the restricted driving program and having to serve your full license suspension

If you follow the rules of the road as far as your restricted driving program, you can complete the program in the minimum amount of time.

Schedule Your Ignition Interlock Device Installation

Scheduling your ignition interlock device installation with ALCOLOCK is easy. With ignition interlock installation locations across the country, we probably have one near you. Just call the service location most convenient to you to schedule your IID installation, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300.

Be sure to have your DMV/DOT paperwork with you when you call, as it has some information on it that we will need.

What to Expect at Your Ignition Interlock Device Installation Appointment

You will need to have someone drive you and your vehicle to the appointment since you cannot legally drive until you get an IID installed. Your installation appointment will last about an hour. This includes the time it takes the technician to connect the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to your vehicle’s starter. The technician will also calibrate the handheld device to you, specifically, and train you in how to blow a proper breath sample. They will also explain what the various sounds and messages mean. You will get a user’s manual to keep with you until you complete your restricted driving program.

Finally, the technician will make an appointment for your first service visit. All states require these service visits. The device will send you reminders of this maintenance appointment a few days in advance. If you must reschedule the visit, call your Service Center right away. You need to bring your vehicle in for the service visit within a certain timeframe or risk a permanent lockout.

At ALCOLOCK, our goal is to get you back on the road quickly and safely.

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