California Ignition Interlock Devices (IID): What DUI Drivers Need to Know

If you are charged with DUI in Los Angeles County Courts or anywhere in California, you will face more harsh penalties than you may think. Even beyond the expensive fines, the loss of your license, and possible jail, you may be ordered to pay for and install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle registered to you or which plan to drive.

Getting convicted of DUI in California changes your life for years. You can’t just pay a fine and forget about the incident; a DUI conviction will remain a part of your daily life for years. For at least four (4) months, every time you try to start your car you’ll need to blow into the IID device to determine if any alcohol is detected in your breath. The court can sometimes restrict you to an IID-equipped vehicle for years.

Calling The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin for help is the best way you can avoid suffering these life-changing consequences after a DUI arrest. With LA County’s most skilled DUI defense lawyers fighting to win your case, you may not need to lose your driving privileges or be forced to submit to a breathalyzer test just to start your engine. We also have a method to avoid the breathalyzer altogether and to get a restricted license (“work license”) for work-related driving. Recognized as the best DUI defense lawyer in Southern California, Hart J. Levin and his associates specialize in winning favorable outcomes for their clients.

Mandatory IID (Ignition Interlock Device) in California - What Happens Next?

Because of LA County’s strict DUI law and mandatory IID policy, people sometimes think that a DUI charge inevitably leads either to a long license suspension or restriction or the mandatory installation of an IID in their car. But not everyone needs to choose between those bad options. The better option is to fight your DUI charge and prevent the prosecution from winning a conviction. At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we have successfully won dismissals, acquittals, and reduction of charges for many of our DUI clients.

What Happens if Your DUI Charge Isn't Dropped?

If you do suffer a DUI conviction in LA County, the penalties include the mandatory installation of an IID in your vehicle, except for the first DUI offense with no injury involved. First-offenders can choose between installing an IID or requesting a restricted license permitting them to drive only to work, school, or religious services.

Remember, the court orders the mandatory installation and use of an IID in addition to other penalties that can include from 2 days to 10 years in prison, and fines from at least $2,500 to more than $10,000 plus court costs, counseling, and probation fees.

And the IID costs you more money. If convicted of DUI in LA County, you will need to pay to install the device in each of your vehicles, pay administrative fees to the DMV, pay monthly fees for the rental of each IID, and the IID unit requires regular recalibration. Yes, you have to pay for that maintenance as well. Installation of an IID typically costs about $150 per vehicle, with monthly lease fees running between $75 to $100. For drivers required to keep the IID for years on more than one car, the cost can be too high to maintain.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and How Does it Work?

An IID is a miniature breathalyzer machine that you must pay to install in every vehicle you own and any personal car or truck you plan to drive during the time you are sentenced to IID monitoring. There is an exemption procedure for employers’ vehicles if an employee with an IID-restricted license drives for a living. (See FAQs below.) Once the IID is properly installed, no one will be able to start your vehicle’s engine unless they blow a breath sample into the unit.

The technology is relatively simple. When someone drinks alcohol, it gets absorbed into their bloodstream and circulates throughout their body. When the alcohol-rich blood goes into your lung tissue, it gets exposed to warm air that causes some of it to evaporate. The evaporated alcohol then gets exhaled in your breath. The IID is designed to measure the amount of alcohol exhaled when you blow into its mouthpiece.

When the IID is installed, the technician will calibrate it to prevent your car’s engine from starting if the alcohol level of the breath sample tested exceeds a preset level, usually between .02 and .025.

If you are successful in starting your car after the initial IID breath test, you will be required to retest in another 10 to 20 minutes (rolling tests). The IID will signal you to provide another breath sample. If you fail to do so within several minutes, the horn will sound and the headlights will flash to attract the attention of other drivers and any police. That event will be recorded as a refusal and require you to answer to authorities.

When Is an Interlock Device Required? Understanding California IDD Laws

Under California law, ignition interlock devices are required in virtually all DUI cases except in a first-offense DUI in which no one was injured. In LA County, the main way to escape an IID is to prevent a conviction. The other option is a restricted license for work-related driving but this option is not always available and does not apply to second or third DUI convictions.

In Los Angeles County, the length of time during which you must keep the IID varies depending on the number of prior DUIs you have, the level of alcohol shown to be in your system at the time of your arrest, and the seriousness of the facts in your case:

  • 1st offense, no injury – choice of IID for 4 months or longer restricted license
  • 1st offense, with injury –  Mandatory IID for 1 year
  • 2nd offense in 10 years – Mandatory IID for 1 year
  • 2nd offense in 10 years with injury –  Mandatory IID for 2 years
  • 3rd offense in 10 years, no injury – Mandatory IID for 2 years
  • 3rd offense in 10 years with injury – Mandatory IID for 3 years
  • 4th or more offense in 10 years – Mandatory IID for 3  years
  • Prior felony DUI, no injury – Mandatory IID for 3 years 
  • Prior felony DUI, with injury – Mandatory IID for 4 years

Who Must Wait Before They Can Drive With an IID?

Any driver convicted of a DUI in California whose case involved an injury to someone else or who has a prior DUI in the last 10 years is not eligible to apply for an IID-restricted license until they have served at least 1 full year of their license suspension. That means no driving at all for one year, not even to work.

Being unable to participate in the IID licensed driving program until after a full year of driving privilege suspension is a key reason why no one should just accept that their DUI case can’t be defeated. If your expert DUI defense lawyer won a dismissal of your first DUI charge, then a second DUI would only be considered a first offense.

When the law imposes enhanced penalties for second or subsequent offenses, no defendant can afford to accept an otherwise defensible DUI charge.

Legal Requirements Before You Can Drive With an IID Installed

Before any person convicted of DUI in LA County can begin to drive with an IID, they must first comply with all the following legal requirements:

  1. Clear all other outstanding suspensions or revocations on the driving record.
    • This requirement can be very burdensome for many drivers. License suspensions or revocations imposed for reasons other than alcohol-related offenses must all be cleared. For example, some drivers who were involved in accidents without insurance may not be able to clear their suspension for years.
    • Others may owe so many fines, fees, or back child support that clearing the suspensions would be prohibitively expensive.

2. ) Provide a Proof of Enrollment Certificate (DL 107) or Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101) for the appropriate DUI program length.

3.) Provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22) (Keep in effect for 3 years)

    • An SR 22 is a special document issued by auto insurers attesting to the fact that your active insurance meets the state’s minimum requirements for financial responsibility. This does not replace your existing car insurance. It is supplemental insurance in addition to your existing insurance. We generally recommend not using your regular insurance carrier for the SR 22 as it will notify them of the DUI arrest and cause an automatic increase in rates or denial of coverage. There are independent companies that specialize in SR 22 without notifying your existing insurance. We can guide you to the right place to get a hassle-free SR 22.

4.) Pay any reissue and restriction fees, including added Administrative Service Fees.

5.) Provide DMV with a Verification of Installation Ignition Interlock form (DL 920) on all of the DUI offender’s registered vehicles.

FAQs About California IID Laws

The length of time your IID breathalyzer remains in your car is determined by the factors we discussed above: 

  1. a) the amount of alcohol in your system at arrest (and the length of the alcohol class that is ordered)
  2. b) whether someone else was injured in relation to your DUI offense,
  3. c) the number of the driver’s prior DUI offenses, if any
Yes. Drivers convicted of DUI who are driving an IDD-equipped vehicle are allowed to drive anywhere and at any time..

Only drivers with first-offense DUI convictions have the option to apply for an IID-restricted license with which they can drive anywhere at any time, or a non-IID-restricted license limiting their legal driving only to work, school, or religious services. All DUI drivers with a prior offense are now required to install an IID.

No. Drivers whose DUI was based on drugs only are exempt from mandatory use of an IID, but they must serve their full license suspension. They may apply to participate in the IID program after serving the first year of their suspension.

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Yes, if you qualify and complete the required documents. The law requires the employer to be notified of the employee’s restricted driving privilege and sign the worker’s Notice to Employers Ignition Interlock Restriction (form DL 923). Drivers must keep the signed form with them any time they drive their employer’s vehicle during their job. The employee cannot drive the employer’s vehicle for any non-work-related purpose unless it also has an IID installed. Note that if the IID-restricted driver is a full or part owner of the business, then they are not eligible to get an exemption to drive a work vehicle without an IID installed.

When the IID detects a failed alcohol test sample, the IID records the data. Of course, the vehicle won’t start if you fail the breath test until the passage of considerable time. During the next IID calibration appointment,  the technician will report any failed tests to the DMV. The DMV may suspend your restricted license, depending on the failed test reading and the frequency of failed tests. 

Tampering with or bypassing the IID is also recorded by the mechanism and will be reported to the DMV. This includes any refusal to provide rolling test breath samples. The penalty for bypassing or tampering with the IID unit is up to 6 months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and revocation of the driver’s restricted license privileges.

There are no IIDs permitted to be used on motorcycles in DUI cases. Therefore, if your only vehicle is a motorcycle, you would not be eligible to drive unless you get a restricted license for to-and-from work driving only. 

DUI offenders who are excluded from the mandatory installation of an IID include:

  • DUI offenders who do not own a vehicle
  • DUI offenders who have no access to a vehicle at their residence
  • DUI offenders who no longer have access to the vehicle used in the DUI
  • Drug-only DUI offenders
  • DUI offenders who do not reside in California and have completed DUI program
  • DUI offenders whose medical condition prevents them from breathing forcefully into the IID.

If the IID technician reports an IID-restricted driver failed to comply with the program’s rules, the DMV will pause the “restricted license” until the driver can produce certification that they have returned to full compliance. In some cases, that means getting the IID unit properly recalibrated and setting up a new maintenance schedule with the IID installer. Depending on the nature of the noncompliance, the DMV can also revoke the IID-restricted license and notify authorities of a misdemeanor violation punishable by up to 6 months in jail.

Yes, the IID installer will issue a certificate (form DL 924) attesting to the DMV that you reestablished full compliance with the program requirements. The DMV will then redetermine the period during which your restricted license is required. Since the time in which your license was “paused” does not count, the new date of completion for the restriction period will be later than it was set originally.

Contact An Experienced California DUI Attorney for Your Free Consultation

There are various ways to avoid the IID and the potential embarrassment it can cause. One option is a restricted license which is subject to eligibility requirements. The other way is to fight and beat the DUI. Without fighting the case, there is no way to avoid the IID. Call now to discuss your options to continue driving.
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