How Many DUIs Until Your Car Requires a Breathalyzer in California?

Man in car using ignition interlock deviceMany California drivers are now required to drive with a burdensome IID as part of their vehicle. An IID, or ignition interlock device is the equivalent of your vehicle having a private breathalyzer. Designed to be a deterrent for drunk driving, the use of one is now being mandated as a part of many DUI convictions.


What is an IID Breathalyzer?


Roughly the size of a cell phone, an IID is an electronic device that is able to read the amount of alcohol in your system the same way in which a police officer’s handheld breathalyzer does. Since it is attached to the ignition of your vehicle, it will lock you out of driving if it reads that you have been drinking. In addition, it will ask you periodically blow into it as you drive. If you don’t oblige, the court will be notified.


When Will the Court Require a Breathalyzer?


In California, a judge has sole discretion when it comes to handing out sentences for DUI offenses. They are permitted to make the requirement for an IID installation in any case involving drunk driver. The amount of time it is to be in use can be as long as three years. For first time offenders who have a blood alcohol count of .15% or higher this is a standard consequence for the offense. This form of punishment may also be given to a driver who refused the breathalyzer or a chemical blood test.


If you are caught driving on a suspended license after a conviction, the court can order that the device be installed on your vehicle once that suspension is lifted.


For repeat offenders the installation of the car breathalyzer is almost always going to be a condition of sentencing, even following periods of license suspension. For a second conviction it is likely that you will be required to drive with one for up to two years while third time convictions of a DUI offense will have you driving with the IID for three years. For those who are convicted of four or more offenses they will have the breathalyzer on their ignition for four years.


Of course these driving restrictions are instated only after any jail time and license suspension periods have been completed. Drivers may also apply for restricted licenses which, if granted, can mean a longer period of time with the device.


A DUI conviction stays on the record for ten years making it conceivable that an individual who is convicted at 22 years old, and having a clean record for the subsequent nine years, will face second offense penalties if convicted of another DUI at the age of 31.


The stakes are high for DUI offenders in California, even for those facing the conviction for the first time. Having a qualified attorney by your side may be your only chance of escaping the heavy penalties associated with the offense. Having the breathalyzer installed directly onto your vehicle may not seem troublesome at first, but once you consider the cost and inconvenience of installation not to mention the embarrassment of having to drive with one you will think again.


An IID is active every time you or anyone else wishes to drive your vehicle. Even the daily trip to work will require you to breathe into the device before starting the vehicle as well as various times throughout your trip. The only way to ensure that you are not subject to this type of restriction after an arrest for a drunk driving offense is to hire a competent attorney who may be able to help have the charge reduced or thrown out entirely.


How Does it Work?


You will be required to blow into the device in order to start your car. If it reads that there is a presence of alcohol on your breath the car won’t start and you will be allowed a few minutes before being asked to try again. Don’t consider having someone blow into it for you. Not only is this a punishable illegal offense, you are also going to be asked to provide breath samples as you drive.  Since the device is designed not to reach the passenger or back seats, they will not be able to perform this for you continuously.


Keep in mind that having this device in your car also means that any other driver who uses it will also have to follow the same rules as you do. This can be embarrassing for those who don’t want to broadcast the news of their DUI conviction.


How Do I Get an IID?


Although it is a court ordered device, you will be required to have the IID installed into your car by a certified technician. The installation can cost upwards of $100. In addition, you may have to pay monthly fees.  Depending on the location, the installation can take anywhere from an hour to all day and once it is installed all activity related to you and your car can be reported back to the court.


How Can I Help Avoid A Mandatory Vehicle Breathalyzer?


Those who seek legal counsel will have the opportunity to have a legal professional better advise them of their situation. For some, this can result in a plea bargain or other situation that could help avoid certain penalties.


Those who were arrested for their drunk driving offense in Southern California, specifically Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego County, or Riverside, can call (888) 250-2865 to obtain a free confidential consultation from a skilled DUI lawyer with no obligation to retain their services.

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