What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Ignition Interlock Device

What is an ignition interlock? An ignition interlock device prevents individuals who have consumed alcohol from operating a motor vehicle by locking the ignition if their breath shows a high alcohol concentration. These devices require users to blow into a sensor multiple times during a trip to test their blood alcohol level. Typically, drivers undergo this testing up to 2,500 times a year. The device also records the driver's routes and often includes a video function to ensure that only the driver breathes into the sensor.

Vehicles outfitted with ignition interlock devices are not affected by the mechanism long-term; once the convicted DUI offender has completed his term of interlock-restricted driving the device can be removed without affecting the vehicle. The use of an interlock device should not show up on a VIN check.

Drunk Driving Statistics

Impaired driving is a significant issue in the United States. Drunk driving represents nearly a third of all highway accident deaths, including one-fifth of the highway accident deaths of children, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. There were over 1 million DUI arrests made nationwide in 2015. Those with DUI convictions are 4 times more likely than others to be involved in a fatal DUI accident than other drivers. Requiring ignition ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders could save 800 lives a year, a report concluded. The Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization says ignition interlock devices have stopped drunk people from driving more than three million times since 2006. The organization says that drunk driving has been reduced by nearly 20 percent in the same period.

Ignition interlock device laws were established to address the dilemma faced by alcohol-dependent individuals who require transportation for work, childcare, and health-related appointments. However, in 2013, only about 20 percent of eligible individuals had access to an ignition interlock device, despite more than 300,000 drivers being eligible. While these devices can be costly, most states offer programs to assist DUI offenders in covering the expenses associated with them. These laws aim to strike a balance between public safety and the needs of individuals struggling with alcohol dependency, ensuring that those who pose a risk on the road are monitored and provided with the necessary support to drive safely.

Ignition Interlock Device Laws by State

Ignition Interlock

Ignition interlock device laws vary across states. In 28 states, ignition interlocks are mandated for all DUI offenders. Eleven states require interlock systems for first-time offenders or those with a BAC above a certain threshold. Repeat offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device in five states: Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Idaho. In four states, judges have discretion over interlock requirements (Indiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana). Nevada mandates interlocks only for those with exceptionally high blood alcohol levels. California, with 27 million licensed drivers, allows judges to decide on interlock requirements, except in four counties where it is mandatory for DUI offenders.

DUI and Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device and a restricted driver’s license may allow a person with a DUI conviction to shorten the license suspension period required by state law. If you want to check someone's drunk driving history and criminal driving violations you can use RecordsFinder's driving records or perform a license plate search.

Those who are frequently “locked out” by the ignition interlock devices may be required to keep the devices on their vehicles for extended periods or may be compelled by a court or state law to attend alcohol dependency intervention classes. New Mexico law requires offenders to have an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months and to be released from the requirement, the driver may not attempt to circumvent the test requirement (many ignition interlock devices).

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization has advocated for compliance-based laws that release drivers from interlock requirements rather than allowing the interlock requirement to expire within a certain period. About 29 states currently have such compliance-based laws that require drivers to complete a period (perhaps a year) of clean driving without any interlock “lockouts” due to failing a breath test.

Ignition Interlock Violation Penalties

If a state requires a driver to use an ignition interlock device due to a DUI conviction, that person must use one in every vehicle he drives and in any state where he drives. Courts may allow an exemption for vehicles owned by the offender’s employer. Arizona’s law restricts where a person using interlock may drive, including to and from work, school, medical appointments, etc.

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving a Car Without Interlock?

If a person convicted of DUI and required to use an ignition interlock device is caught driving without an interlock device he may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. In Massachusetts, if the driver is drunk at the time he is stopped and found without an interlock device, his license is automatically revoked.

Study Conclusions

The effectiveness of ignition interlock devices has been under scrutiny for almost two decades. Studies reveal several key findings: Firstly, monitoring installation and compliance pose challenges without substantial dedicated resources. Secondly, data provided by interlock device manufacturers to states may not always align, hindering comparison efforts. Thirdly, the lack of mandatory state reporting of interlock data complicates national surveys. Additionally, while these devices effectively deter alcohol consumption at the time of driving, they do not address the underlying issue of dependency. Lastly, integrating interlock compliance with treatment programs is recognized as the most efficacious approach to tackling the root causes of DUI incidents. These insights shed light on the complexities surrounding ignition interlock systems and underscore the importance of comprehensive ignition interlock device laws.


How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

The cost of an IID can vary depending on factors such as the manufacturer, features, and any state-specific requirements. On average, installation costs range from $50 to $200, with monthly leasing fees ranging from $50 to $100.

Are There Different Types of Ignition Interlock Devices Available?

Yes, there are various types of ignition interlock devices available on the market, ranging from basic models to more advanced systems with additional features such as GPS tracking and camera functionality.

How Long do I Have to Use an IID?

The duration of IID requirements varies by state and the severity of the offense. In general, individuals may be required to use an IID for a period ranging from several months to several years.

Can I Drive any Vehicle With an IID Installed?

Typically, individuals are only permitted to drive vehicles equipped with an IID during the period of requirement. Driving a vehicle without an IID while under an IID requirement may result in further legal consequences.