The main way to know if you need an ignition interlock device is to read the paperwork that you received after your DUI/DWI conviction, or anything the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation (DMV/DOT) sent you. You can also check with your DUI lawyer.
Each state has an ignition interlock law and specific requirements for drivers convicted of DUI/DWI.
First Time DUI/DWI
If this is your first DUI/DWI conviction, you may not be required to get an ignition interlock device. It depends on the circumstances of your specific case, and what state you live in. 32 states and Washington D.C. require all offenders, even first time offenders, to get an ignition interlock device installed as part of getting your full driving privileges back.
Other states do not require IIDs for first-time offenders with a BAC under .10 but do require it for a higher BAC. Or they may require you to get an ignition interlock installed if someone was injured as a result of your drunk driving, or if you had a child in the car with you at the time of your arrest.
Check your state’s specific program rules for details.
Second or Subsequent DUI/DWI
All states require you to get an ignition interlock device installed after a second or subsequent DUI/DWI conviction. So if you’re a repeat offender, you can count on needing an ignition interlock device. How long you will need the ignition interlock again depends on the state you live in, and how many previous convictions you have.
The more convictions you have, generally, the longer you will have to have the IID installed before you can apply for reinstatement of your unrestricted license.
Exemptions from the Ignition Interlock Program
If the state says you need to get an ignition interlock device installed in order to get your unrestricted driver’s license back, there are a few cases where you might be exempt. Again, you will want to check your state’s requirements, because not all states allow these exemptions.
If you drive a company vehicle as part of your job, you’re lucky if your employer doesn’t fire you after a DUI conviction. If you’re lucky and your employer keeps you on the payroll, and they trust you to drive, you may need to ask to have an ignition interlock device installed on the company vehicle. But in some states, you may be able to get what’s called an employer exemption. This means you don’t have to get an IID installed on the company vehicle.
If you are an independent contractor or self-employed and drive a work truck or tractor-trailer that you own, you would still be required to get an IID installed on that vehicle. The exemption only applies to a vehicle you drive for work that is owned by the company.
If you are in ill health, you may qualify for a medical exemption. The medical exemption is not offered in every state. You might qualify for a medical exemption if you have some sort of lung disease that would prevent you from blowing forcefully enough into the device for your BAC to register. It would be pointless to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle if you couldn’t use it properly. In cases like this, the state might come up with another way to keep you from driving drunk..
Some states also include a financial hardship provision. Most people can take financial responsibility for the installation and maintenance costs of an ignition interlock device. If your state has a policy on financial hardship and you think you qualify, be prepared to fill out a bunch of forms, provide bank statements and tax returns, and provide proof that you are indigent. Even then, while you might receive financial assistance in paying for the ignition interlock device, you would still have to get it installed on your vehicle.
If You Don’t Have a Car
Let’s say you got pulled over for drunk driving while you were driving a friend home from a night out on the town. You end up getting convicted of DUI. But, if you don’t have a car, what happens?
If your state laws would require you to install an ignition interlock device if you did own a car, you cannot drive ANY vehicle, whether you own it or not, unless it is equipped with an ignition interlock device. So that means you can’t borrow a friend’s car. You can’t drive a work vehicle (unless you got an employer exemption as discussed previously).
So if you will be borrowing a car, you need to get an ignition interlock device installed in that vehicle. The person you share it with will also need to blow into the IID every time they drive the car. And if you buy a car, you would have to get an IID installed before you could drive it.
Your other option is to use public transportation, Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc. for the duration of your license suspension. That can be very inconvenient unless you live in a big city. It can also potentially be more expensive than the installation and maintenance costs of an ignition interlock device.
If You Need an Ignition Interlock Device, Schedule Installation Now
If you need to get an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, help is just a phone call away. Call one of our service locations directly, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300 to schedule your ignition interlock installation appointment. Be sure you have all of the paperwork from the courts and DMV/DOT when you call. That will help streamline the whole process. Once we have confirmation that you are eligible for your state’s restricted driving program, we can generally get you an appointment within two business days. We offer fast and affordable ignition interlock device installation and maintenance at locations around the country.