Questions About Interlock Ignition Systems

The Interlock Ignition System And How It Works

An interlock ignition device is the breath testing device that a person has to blow into for two reasons:

First, to start the engine; it won’t start unless the person blows into it and

Second, periodically when the person is driving they have to blow into it to show that there is no alcohol in their system and that the person who blew into it to get t started is the same person who is driving.

It is a small box that goes up under the dash of the vehicle under the ignition and is connected to the ignition and there is a breath test tube that comes tied to it that the person blows into. As they are driving, they have to blow in to it to prove there is no alcohol in their breath.

The way the device works is that the beep goes off and they have a 10 seconds to blow into it to provide sufficient air to show that there is no alcohol in their system. If it does detect alcohol, it does not stop the vehicle but it records that breath and that can be used as a basis to extend the interlock requirement if it’s above the .08% limit.

In terms of what a violation is, there are 3 main reasons:

The first one is the most obvious: if it detects 2 readings within a year’s time period more than a .08% then that’s a violation that leads to a 6 months extension of the interlock requirement.

A second would be if the person appears to be disconnecting the device for some reason that will lead to an extension order of 6 months. For example if they disconnect it from the vehicle.

A 3rd one would be that the driver has to periodically take a rolling test meaning when the vehicle is running when requested to do so. If they miss a rolling test, that leads to an extension of 6 months.

In terms of where there can be false problems is appearing to disconnect the device. At all times, the device has to have a connection of electrical current running through it. If for some reason the battery dies and there is no current running through the device, it will look like the person is trying to disconnect it. In that case they will get a 6 month extension order.

The MVD is very understanding about the problems with the interlock but the issue has to be resolved in an MVD administrative hearing. In these hearings, as long as the person explains the situation, if for example they have a receipt for their replacement battery, then it’s no problem. You won’t have a problem with the hearing once you are able to provide proof of it.

The person has to request a hearing because if they don’t, the extension order goes into effect.

This happens a lot of times. Several years ago I had the case of a 21-year-old young man who he was getting mails on his mother house. That was the mailing address he had on record with the MVD. She kept getting those extension orders in the mail for him and she thought they were just junk mail and she didn’t tell him about it. She got 8 of these extension orders.

I could only request a hearing for the last of the 8 notices one so that extension order was voided, because it was just a mistake. But he MVD said it was too late to contest the first 7 extension orders and so they went into effect and he is doing that interlock for the next 7 years.

So if someone ever gets an extension order, they should call their attorney right away who will request a hearing. It is very easy to do. Attorneys do it all the time, but they have to request a hearing to avoid getting stuck to it for longer time periods. That’s basically what an interlock system is, and this is how the device works.

The interlock may be ordered during the period of suspension, but most commonly it is ordered, it is a result of a DUI conviction. If it’s a regular DUI or an extreme DUI with an alcohol level less than a .20%, it’s a 1 year requirement of the interlock.

If it’s a 1st offense 0.20% super extreme DUI conviction then it is an 18 month interlock requirement. If it’s a second offense, regular DUI or an extreme less than a 0.20% conviction, then it is a one year interlock requirement. If it’s second conviction for a super extreme DUI, more than a 0.20%, it’s a 2 year requirement. If it’s a first offense regular DU less than .15%I, the person is eligible to have the interlock removed after 6 months as long as they have installed the interlock when they are required to do and have completed alcohol counseling.
It is described as DUI education which is 16 hours of counseling. As long as they have done those 2 things and don’t have any problems with the interlock prior to the expiration of six months with the interlock, then they have removed it after 6 months.

There have been problems with the MVD not accurately knowing that the person has completed the 16 hours of education. In most of these cases, the person may hire an attorney to get the interlock requirement dropped after 6 months. The interlock has to be installed when ordered, for example if it’s after a conviction, they are ordered to install it within 30 days.

If the person doesn’t install the interlock when they are required to, and they wait 2 or 3 months, then they are not eligible for that 6 month deferment. Defendants have to make sure to install it when ordered otherwise they will have to do it longer than they would otherwise have to.

Defendants are mainly eligible for the deferment on a regular less than .15% DUI as long as they install it when they are required to do so and they completed the education and they don’t have any problems with the interlock that will result in an extension.

Out Of Pocket Costs With The Interlock Ignition System

For the interlock, the rates are generally a monthly rate between $75 – $90 a month to have it on. Some companies charge to install it, some don’t.

Usually, if the person doesn’t have to have the interlock installer come to them to install the interlock because they can’t drive the vehicle anywhere, then they don’t get charged to install it. On average, it is $75 a month to have it on there. If the installer has to come to them usually they get charged an additional fee.

There are about 6 companies right now in Maricopa County that do it. I advise my clients to call all the companies and see what the rates are, but it’s around $75 a month on average to have it on there. So for 6 months, the cost is $450 to have it on.

When Does A Court Require An Ignition?

On a first extreme driving under the influence DUI conviction either a .15% extreme or a .20% super extreme the defendant maybe able to use the installation of the interlock to get lesser jail time. The basic sentence for a .15% extreme is 30 days in jail. For a .20% extreme, the sentence is 45 days in jail.

If the court permits it, on the .15% extreme, the court can order the sentence to be 30 days, jail but 21 days suspended if a person installs an interlock and maintains it for one year. On the .20% extreme, its 45 days, and 31 days can be suspended if the person installs the interlock for 1 year.

Under that scenario, they are doing the interlock both because the MVD ordered it as a condition of having an Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive and as well as the court permitting them to install the interlock so the defendant can get out of the additional jail time.

In those cases again it depends on the court but usually the person is required to prove that they installed the interlock and then a year later show that they have maintained the interlock on a vehicle for 1 year without any problems or interruptions. Most court requires that.

The exceptions to that are Scottsdale and Surprise Municipal Courts which require more than. Those courts require the person to provide quarterly reports showing that the device is still on the vehicle as it’s supposed to be and that there are no violations on the record.

For Scottsdale and Surprise there clearly, there is need for a lawyer to make sure the court gets the correct accurate records because with some of these companies, it is very difficult to check the records from the company and it requires a lot of effort on the attorneys part to get through the records and get them to the court.

If the defendant is unable to get the records, then they have to do more jail time.

Under those scenarios, it’s very important to have a lawyer to make sure you are able to get the records. That’s a little bit different, that’s those courts’ requirements of 1 year, certain sentences allowing for less jail time if you maintain the interlock for one year.

That only for first offense DUI conviction, it’s not on the second offense DUI conviction.   Not all courts do that permit the suspension of jail time by doing the interlock. Some courts will not do that but for those who do, that’s an additional court requirement for interlock.

When There Are Issues With The Ignition Interlock Device

Issues concerning Ignition Interlock are dealt by the MVD. As long as at a hearing, the defendant is able to provide sufficient proof, for example the battery died or an explanation why they might have missed a rolling test, as long as they can offer an explanation for the events to satisfy the MVD judge, then they suspend the extension requirement and it does not get extended.

MVD judges are very understanding with the problems of the interlock. Similarly, if it’s a clear indication that the person was drinking, had 2 or more violations within a year of having an alcohol level of .08% before they extend the interlock. The judges bend over backwards to help the driver.

However, the person has to do the hearing. If they don’t request a hearing, they get stuck with the extension but if they do request a hearing, at the hearing the judges are understanding,

If you need information about Interlock Ignition Systems, call the law office of Attorney Gordon Thompson for a free initial consultation at [number type=”1″] and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.


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