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Ignition Interlock Devices in New Hampshire

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are small devices that are installed in a car’s dash and connected to the car’s ignition or starter system.  This device requires the driver to submit to a BAC test before the car will start.  Generally, most devices will be set to allow the car to start only when the result of the BAC test is below 0.02% to 0.04%.  The required level is set upon installation of the IID and is determined by the court requiring the device to be installed or by statute.

IIDs offer a safe alternative to permanent license revocation.  Historically, multiple violations would result in permanent license revocation.  Because the privilege to drive is critical in most parts of the country, especially in traveling to and from work, individuals need to be able to lawfully operate their vehicles.  IIDs allow a driver to operate his vehicle while ensuring that he is doing so within the bounds of the law.

New Hampshire requires the installation of an IID in three situations.  Any driver who is convicted of an Aggravated DUI in the state will be required to have one of these devices installed.  Second, any driver who is convicted of multiple DUIs, general or aggravated, and regardless of whether prior convictions took place in New Hampshire, will be required to have an IID installed in his or her vehicle.  Finally, any person who is convicted of driving under suspension or revocation which resulted from a DWI offense will be required to install and IID.  If a driver is required to install an IID, the court must require the device be installed for at least one (1) year but may not require that the device be installed for more than two (2) years.

It is important to realize that installation of an IID does not take the place of the revocation or suspension of a license or driving privilege that is required when a person is convicted of a charge that places them in one of the above categories of drivers.  The installation takes place after the driver has served his or her period of suspension or revocation.  The person will also be required to install this device on any vehicle that is registered under his/her name, or that he/she uses on a regular basis.  Also, drivers subject to installation of an IID will be required to produce  a certificate proving installation before their license is reinstated, and may have a mark placed on their license or a sticker placed on their license plate showing they have installed an IID.

There is one situation in which a court is allowed, but not required by statute, to require a driver to install an IID.  Any person under the age of 21 who has had their license revoked or suspended for a driving while intoxicated charge to install an IID.  In these situations, the court can require the device be installed for a period of one year or until the person turns 21 years old, whichever is longer.

New Hampshire law allows a driver who has been required to install an IID to be charged with a misdemeanor for attempting to circumvent, or “get around”, driving with an IID.  The actions that could result in a charge under this “non-circumvention” statute include: (1) driving any vehicle that is not equipped with an IID, or; (2) tampering with or in any way attempting to circumvent the operation of an IID.  This statute also makes it a misdemeanor for any person to provide a motor vehicle not equipped with an IID to someone they know is required to use an IID or to start a vehicle equipped with an IID for a person required to have one installed in order to provide that person with an operable vehicle.  The only exception to these rules is when an individual starts another’s vehicle with an IID for safety or mechanical repair purposes.

Failing to abide by the requirements of the court with regards to installation, calibration, and use of an IID could result in an individual being charged with violating a court order, or the person being held in contempt of court.  This could lead to a penalty ranging from a short term license suspension until the individual is considered to be in compliance with the court order, or suspension up to 12 months for repeated violations of the court order.

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