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Ignition Interlock Devices in Ohio

The installation of ignition interlock devices (also called breath alcohol ignition interlock devices) can be mandated by the court if a driver has been convicted of driving under the influence. The ignition interlock device will be installed at your expense. While it is in the discretion of the court to order installation in the first or second occurrence of DUI, it is a mandatory penalty upon your third or more conviction. Ignition interlock devices are attached to the dashboard of the car and will prevent the engine from turning on if the driver’s blood alcohol is measured above 0.02%. In order to turn over the engine, the driver must first exhale into the device. If his BAC is registered as over 0.02% the motor will not start. The ignition interlock device will also turn on randomly during a car trip, requiring the driver to exhale into it while driving. This procedure is designed to prevent a sober friend from breathing into the device and letting an intoxicated person behind the wheel or a sober driver from starting the car and then starting drinking while on the road. If the driver does not exhale into the device or if the device registers alcohol on the driver’s breath, the ignition interlock device will record the episode in its log, warn the driver and start an alarm. Most ignition interlock devices’ alarm consists of flashing the headlights and blaring the horn. The alarm will continue until either the driver turns off the ignition or until a clean breath sample is provided.

The ignition interlock device CANNOT be tampered with. Any attempt to tamper with the ignition interlock device is a first-degree misdemeanor with its own penalties. The device will register any attempt to turn it off and will log the attempt in its system. When the court sees you’ve tried to uninstall the ignition interlock device, it will send you a notice that the court will be adding more penalties to your sentence such doubling your license suspension. The notice will state that the changes will go into effect in two weeks. You can appeal these changes any time in the two weeks from the time you get the notice until the changes go into effect. The scope of the appeal is limited to whether you were prevented from starting the motor because the device had been tampered with or if you were so prevented because the device measured alcohol on your breath.

If you don’t use the interlock ignition device for the entire time prescribed by the court then your full driving privileges will not be reinstated. For the first offense of not driving with the required ignition interlock device, you might lose your license for up to a year. The second time you try driving without it, you could lose your license for anywhere between one and five years. The law enforcement officer who pulls you over will know if you should have an ignition interlock device because your license will list the restriction.

There is, however, one exception that can be made if you are required to drive only with an ignition interlock device. If you have been granted limited driving privileges (discussed in depth within another topic) with the condition that the vehicle you are driving must be equipped with an ignition interlock device, you may operate a vehicle owned by your employer if you are required to drive that particular vehicle in the course of your employment (ex. flower delivery truck). In order to drive this work vehicle, you must have proof that you notified your employer that you have limited driving privileges and of the nature of the restriction. If you have proof that you informed your employer in your possession while you are operating this vehicle in your normal work duties then you cannot be charged with driving without your mandatory ignition interlock device.

If you have been mandated by the court to drive only with an ignition interlock device, then you MUST be the one to supply the breath samples to the machine. If you have someone else blow into the machine then both the bystander and you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.


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