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Ignition Interlock Devices in North Carolina

Ignition interlock devices offer a relatively safe alternative to license revocation.  The driver will be allowed to operate his vehicle as long as he or she has a BAC limit that is not above the prohibited vehicle.  This may be extremely important for many North Carolina drivers, especially those who live, work, and go to school in rural areas of the state.

North Carolina’s ignition interlock law can be found at NC Gen. Stat. §20-17.8.  The law requires that drivers install a device that measures BAC before allowing the vehicle to start.  This device is small, and since the development of the device, has become much more reliable.  Generally, it will be required that a device be installed on any vehicle for which the person required to install the device is the registered owner.  Currently, the only authorized company to install and monitor ignition interlock devices in North Carolina is Monitech.

There are currently two situations in which a driver will be required to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle.  First, when a driver has been convicted of a DUI and was found to have an excessive BAC level (0.15% or more), he will be required to install an ignition interlock device if he applies for and is granted limited driving privileges.  Under this part of the statute, the ignition interlock device shall be set so as not to allow operation of the vehicle if the driver’s BAC is at or above 0.04%.  In this instance, the device must remain on the car for at least a year.  However, if the driver has an excessive BAC and is under 21, or was driving a commercial vehicle, or injured someone while committing the offense, the device shall be set at 0.00%.

Second, if a driver is convicted of two or more DUI offenses within a seven year period, he will be required to install an ignition interlock device when his driving privileges are reinstated, and the device will be set to prohibit ignition if the driver’s BAC level is greater than 0.00%.  Depending the number/frequency of the past DUI convictions, as well as the surrounding circumstances of the convictions (presence of aggravating factors, mitigating factors, etc.) the judge shall make a determination as to how long the driver will be required to use an ignition interlock device.

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