What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath-test device connected to a vehicle’s ignition. The vehicle will not start unless the driver blows into the interlock and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below a pre-set low limit, usually .02 BAC.”

Many states require people who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Why Are Interlocks Necessary?

Anti-drunk driving advocates say the average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before a first arrest and estimate about 2 million of the drunk drivers on the road on any given day are repeat offenders.

Interlock ignition devices prevent vehicles from starting when drunk drivers get behind the wheel. If they are installed after a first offense, they may prevent subsequent offenses.

After New York implemented interlock use for all DWI offenders, including first-time offenders, interlock use increased by 100%. Over the last quarter of a century, New York State has reduced alcohol-related fatalities by 61%.

New York Ignition Interlock Laws

In New York, widespread ignition interlock device (IID) use was implemented after an 11-year old named Leandra Rosado was killed by a drunk driver.

Under Leandra’s Law, all drivers sentenced for DWI on or after August 15, 2010, must have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle they own or operate and have an “interlock restriction” added to their driver license.

The device must remain installed for at least 6 months (and often up to 12 months) and usage is monitored by the District Attorney’s Office, county STOP DWI program, or probation department.

After sentencing, you only have 10 days to install your ignition interlock device. This costs about $200 with a $100/month maintenance fee – and a removal fee when your interlock restrictions are lifted.

Driving without an ignition interlock device or violating an IID court order Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

How Do Interlocks Work?

An interlock ignition device connects to your motor vehicle’s ignition and measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) via a breath test. If you blow .025% BAC or higher, your engine will not start. While the engine is running, the interlock may require more breath tests. If you fail to exhale into the device, your failure is recorded, and your vehicle will start honking until your ignition is turned off or you provide a clean breath sample. Some IIDs even have built-in cameras to monitor your behavior.

How Long Do I Have to Have an Ignition Interlock Device?

In most cases, you will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle (and all vehicles you own or use) for at least 6 months.

The only exception is any vehicles you drive for work. Your boss must give you written approval to drive your work vehicle. New York State recommends you speak to your attorney if this situation applies to you.

After being charged with a DWI, you should always speak with a criminal defense attorney.

Our attorneys at Foley Griffin are always ready to discuss your case during a free consultation. We have more than 75 years of combined experience and can help you seek the best possible result, whether that be reducing your charges or dropping them altogether.

Call us at (888) 966-8480 or contact us online today for the legal help you need.

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