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Ignition Interlock Devices in California

An ignition interlock device is a mechanism installed to a vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the motorist must first breathe into the device. If the blood alcohol result is higher than the programmed blood alcohol content, the device prevents the engine from being started.

For a first conviction of driving under the influence and driving under the influence and causing injury to another person, the sentencing judge has discretion to determine if an interlock device should be installed or not. The Court gives heightened consideration to applying this sanction to a first offense violator with a 0.15 blood alcohol content or more, a person who has two or more prior moving violation, or to persons who refused the chemical tests at arrest.

If such device is ordered, the term shall not exceed three (3) years. Every sixty (60) days, the motorist shall arrange for the ignition interlock device to be serviced by the installer. The installer shall recalibrate and monitor the operation of the device. The installer shall notify the court if the device is removed or indicates that the motorist tried to remove, bypass, or tamper with the device, or if the motorist fails three or more times to comply with a requirement for the maintenance or calibration of the ignition interlock device. The installer is not required to report if the motorist complies with all the requirements.

For a second or more conviction of driving under the influence and driving under the influence and causing injury to another person, the motorist’s license shall be revoked for more than a year. But the motorist can apply for a restrictive driver license. If such license is obtained, an ignition interlock device is required to be installed in the vehicle. The restriction shall remain in effect for at least the remaining period of the original suspension or revocation and until all reinstatement requirements are fulfilled.

As stated above, the motorist shall arrange for an installer to service the vehicle every sixty (60) days. Unlike above, the department of motors vehicle shall immediately suspend or revoke the privilege to operate a motor vehicle of a person who attempts to remove, bypass, or tamper with the device, or who fails three or more times to comply with the maintenance or calibration of the device. If such suspension occurs, the driving privilege shall remain suspended for the entire period.

It should be noted that California does not allow for the ignition interlock device to be installed into motorcycle. Furthermore, motorists with motorcycles are not allowed to apply for a restrictive driver license. A motorist with a vehicle (car) and a motorcycle is allowed to apply for a restrictive driver license; however, the motorist is not allowed to operate her motorcycle.


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