What Exactly Can I Do With an Ignition Interlock Device?Do you remember getting grounded as a kid? Do you remember what it was like to lose certain privileges you took for granted, and just how hard it was to deal with? Sometimes you don’t realize how much you need something before it’s taken away, and that doesn’t change as you grow up. As adults, we don’t really have to worry about getting grounded, but boy, can we lose some privileges!

If you’ve been convicted of any sort of crime, you’re well aware of this. For those convicted of a DUI, you may know even more. DUI penalties are especially severe and pervasive, lasting long after the usual punishments. You may find yourself stuck with an ignition interlock device (IID), which prevents you from driving under the influence. As you sit there, moping in your room, grounded by the law, you may find yourself thinking — what CAN you do with this thing?

Well, you can…uh, drive sober. That’s about it.

What you SHOULD be worried about is what you CAN’T do. Violations of the Ignition Interlock Program carry a lot of weight, and if you’re not able to avoid all of them (because false violations can and do happen), you should at least know how to protect yourself.

What are considered violations of the Ignition Interlock Program?

It’s not that the violations are rocket science; it’s just that there’s a lot of them. And when you’re already dealing with DUI charges or even a conviction, it’s understandable you might be a little frazzled. Unfortunately, “a little frazzled” is not a valid defense, and does not excuse whatever they say you did. Possible violations include:

  • Trying to operate the vehicle while impaired (yes, even if the device successfully stops you)
  • Attempting to tamper with or disable the IID in any way
  • Failing to attend monthly inspections
  • Failing to submit to retests while driving
  • Driving any vehicle NOT fitted with an IID (including a friend’s car or a rental)
  • Failing to have the device installed at all
  • Neglecting payments/terms of service outlined by the ignition interlock company
  • Letting someone else provide a clean breath sample

This is not a comprehensive list, but you get the picture. Any funny business is not, in fact, funny. If you’re slyly wondering how they’d even catch you renting a car, please imagine me wagging my finger in disappointment at you. Once you’re given an ignition interlock, your license is restricted. It says RESTRICTED. When the rental company looks at your license, they will see RESTRICTED. And then they will tell on you, because they are not your friends (and because it’s illegal for them to rent to you).

Okay, they may not tell on you, but they still won’t let you rent a car. And if law enforcement finds out you tried, you’re in trouble.

Sometimes, though, you can do everything right and still face a violation. Maybe you took just a second too long to submit a retest; maybe the device logged your asthma medicine as alcohol (yes, really). Whatever it is, and even if you really Did The Thing, you should always be on the lookout for violations and ready to fight them. Not only can violations extend the period of your IID, but a severe enough one can get you kicked out of the program and your license revoked. As annoying and unfair as the device can be, it’s the only way a lot of people get to keep any driving privileges at all — as well as stay out of jail.

Why would I need (or want) an ignition interlock device?

Depending on your circumstances, an ignition interlock device can be either a blessing or a curse. Frankly, it’s usually both at once. Sometimes, you’re ordered to install an ignition interlock device just because you refused to take a breathalyzer and you haven’t been proven innocent (or guilty) yet.

Sometimes, you’ve been convicted of a DUI and you either need to install the device or entirely surrender your driving privileges. Your attorney may actually argue in favor of getting you one, if it means you’re still able to get to work and stay out of jail. Since these devices, admittedly, make it virtually impossible to drive under the influence, many defense attorneys use them as bargaining chips for lesser sentences in cases where the defendant isn’t found wholly innocent.

Yeah, they suck, but think about it: you just have to breathe into it and prove you’re sober. You can still drive your car, still go where you want to go. Not to mention, IIDs are definitely preferable to prison.

What happens if I can’t afford an IID?

So, this is probably the worst part of the Ignition Interlock Program: it’s not free. You have to pay for the device, its maintenance, a fee for the restricted license itself, monthly lease, and more. It can be an extra $100 per month to care for these breath-sucking car monsters, and that’s not something everyone just has laying around. Luckily, as long as you’re able to prove a low income, Maryland does have a program to help you afford the device.

How do I avoid losing my Maryland license after an IID violation?

You get an attorney, first of all.

Specifically, you get a skilled DUI defense attorney with an experience in ignition interlock device violations. Yeah, it’s a mouthful, but those buzzwords have weight, darn it. If the MVA thinks you violated the program, your license may be straight up revoked. Now, they do not currently have the ability to teleport, so no one’s popping out of thin air to yank your license away. Instead, you’ll get a letter in the mail letting you know you’re in what’s technically called “deep doo-doo” and facing revocation. That letter will include the option to request a hearing — and that’s where your attorney comes in.

You want that hearing, because that’s where you and your attorney will argue against your alleged violations and fight to keep your license. Hopefully, you find yourself that legal representative as soon as you’re facing DUI charges of any sort. Whether you end up needing an ignition interlock device or not, criminal defense attorneys can fight to lessen your charges, prove your innocence, appeal violations, and more. They are the best way to protect your rights and freedom — even if you still need a breath-sucking car monster.

At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we help those facing DUI charges in Annapolis and Ellicott City, no matter how complicated or “hopeless” their case may seem. I have a large arsenal of defenses under my belt meant to protect people like you from the damaging impact of a DUI conviction. To learn how I can help you, don’t wait. Call today in Annapolis or Ellicott City or use my contact form to schedule a consultation.

Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!