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Is the Ignition Interlock Device Required in a Drug DUI Case?

Please note: If you need to speak to a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles, contact Craig Sturm today.

Many people wonder, “Is the ignition interlock device required in a drug DUI case?”

The answer is maybe.

It depends on each individual case, the people who are being charged, and their histories. Of course, the judge has the final say. If it is your first time getting a DUI, the judge might decide on punishments other than the ignition interlock device (known as IID for short). Many times, with drug DUIs, judges will decide to order IIDs because they also want to make sure you are not drinking and driving while you are dealing with the charges and punishments related to your drug DUI case. In other words, don’t get your hopes up; more often than not, an IID will be required.

If you are a repeat offender, you should definitely anticipate the probability of an IID being ordered by a judge. This is also true if your DUI caused injuries to others. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to be ordered an IID even if you are a first-time offender. In these cases, the device is usually in place for six months. Repeat offenders, on the other hand, should expect their devices to be in place for at least a year.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Let us step back a little bit and talk about what IIDs actually are. They are miniature breath test instruments—about the size of a cell phone—that must be breathed into in order for the driver to be able to operate his or her vehicle. IIDs are mounted to the dashboard or steering column of an offender’s vehicle and prevent the car from functioning properly until the driver proves he or she is alcohol-free.

In California, if a judge orders you to install an IID as part of a DUI (alcohol- or drug-related), you will be required to:

  • Have the ignition interlock device installed.
  • Have one of these devices installed in each car you own or drive (barring a few outlying exceptions, such as if you drive an employer-owned vehicle).
  • Take it in for servicing at least every 60 days.

How do IIDs Work?

Most people recognize the fact that ignition interlock devices require the driver to breathe into them for the car to start. That, however, is just the beginning. Sure, you will need to provide an alcohol-free breath sample to begin your journey, but once you are driving, the device will ask for random samples as you are driving.

RELATED: How to Fight a Prescription Drug DUI

If you do not “pass” your IID’s breath requests, your car will not be disabled. Instead, the device will register a “failure” on the log. The courts have access to the data and will see the failure. Be mindful that IIDs are intentionally designed to ensure that only the person who’s driving is providing the requested breath samples. This design includes:

  • Requirements of specific breath patterns for the sample.
  • Short cords on the device that do not reach beyond the driver’s seat.
  • Demands of random samples, even while the driver is actively on the road.
  • Charges that can be passed onto anyone who fraudulently provides his or her breath sample into the device of a person who was sentenced to this punishment.

Ignition Interlock Devices are Costly

When it comes to IIDs, the bottom line is that nobody wants one. They are a hassle, they are embarrassing, and they are expensive. You must pay for installation, as well as monthly calibrations to make sure they are accurate. Then, when you are all finished serving your sentence, you will have to pay to have the device removed from your vehicle. The best way to avoid the costs—both financial and emotional—is to avoid driving under the influence of any substance that can impair your judgement, including alcohol, marijuana, and other forms of drugs.

If you break down the cost of an IID in California, you are looking at an average cost of around $2.50 per day. Installation charges tend to run between $75 and $100. Be mindful that you cannot use just anyone to install your device if you are ordered to have an IID in your car; you’ll need to find a court-approved installer, which can take time and energy to research and contact companies until you find one that’s available within the timeframe you need it to be.

Bottom Line

If you think you are in the clear because your DUI did not involve alcohol, you might not be out of the woods yet. Depending on your unique circumstance—as well as the judge who is hearing your case—you could be sentenced to serve time with an IID installed on your car, even if your charges had nothing to do with drinking and driving.

If you have been charged with a drug DUI in California, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced DUI lawyer right away. Craig Sturm has extensive experience in these matters, and our team of DUI defense professionals is here to help you make the most of your situation. Reach out to us today!

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