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Understanding Ignition Interlock Devices

Have you been found guilty of DUI in Pennsylvania? If you are found guilty of DUI in Pennsylvania, you will be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. IIDs can be useful in one way: they are often required when you want to drive but your license has been suspended. They can also cause you problems. These devices are hard to operate and can produce faulty results that can get you into more trouble.

At Mike Sherman Law, our DUI defense lawyer who is a former Pennsylvania State Police attorney, will inform you of your rights and help you understand your responsibilities while you fight DUI or DUI-related charges. This is especially true if you are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to your vehicle. Contact us at (412) 471-5000 to schedule a FREE Consultation and learn more about your legal options.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small device installed in a vehicle to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's breath. A driver must breathe into the device before driving, and if the IID registers the presence of alcohol over the legal limit, the car will not start. If the IID registers alcohol under the legal limit, the car can be started but with one caveat: a recorded warning is issued.

Everything the device records is reported to either the court probation office. Usually, the ignition interlock device program is run by private vendors who report the results to your probation officer.

What Information is Recorded and Reported?

For your own information, it is good to know what information is or can be recorded and reported. Typically, reported information is specific to each ignition interlock device (IID) program but may include any of the following:

  • Date and time of each startup or rolling test
  • Location of the vehicle at the time of each test, if equipped with a GPS
  • A photo of you at the time of each test, if equipped with a camera
  • Pass or fail results
  • BAC reading for each test
  • Number of lockouts, if any
  • Indication someone else tried to take the breath test
  • Any tampering with or removal of the IID
  • Missed service visits

When are Results Reported?

Results are reported at different times – again, depending on the specific ignition interlock device (IID) program. Generally, results are reported in real-time or at every service visit.

Why Are Ignition Interlock Devices Required in Pennsylvania ?

Every jurisdiction has its own rules regarding the installation of ignition interlock devices, but typically IIDs are ordered in any of the following circumstances:

  • You were investigated for DUI offenses and refused a breath or blood test.
  • Your driver's license was suspended, but you were granted a restricted or hardship license with the installation of an IID as a condition, allowing you to drive back and forth to work, school, doctor appointments, or another court-approved location.
  • You were convicted of drunk driving, and installation of an IID was part of the sentence.

Three Problems Associated with IIDs in Pennsylvania

IIDs are flawed devices. Many complaints exist but here are the top three problems.

  1. False Positives. False positives are a reality with IIDs. Common household products (like mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and cough syrup) and foods (like energy drinks, pickles, and fruits) have been known to cause a false positive.
  2. User Error. Like IIDs, people are flawed too. Some IIDs require drivers to hum while they blow into the device. This can be difficult for some people, causing the device to record a violation that does not exist. 
  3. Multiple Drivers. Many people share vehicles with their spouses and other family members, and there is no way to shut down an IID when the vehicle is being used by someone other than the person it is intended to monitor.

These problems are not minor or small. When an issue arises, it can create more legal worries with the criminal court. The state can also revoke the restricted license, meaning you can no longer drive your vehicle to/from work, school, etc.

While all these problems can cause frustration and affect your ability to drive, ignition interlock devices can also be dangerous. 

Dangers of Ignition Interlock Devices

What many people fail to realize is that ignition interlock devices (IIDs) not only test blood alcohol levels before allowing the car to start but also while the vehicle is in motion. This is known as “rolling testing” and is a common reason for IID criticism.

Drivers are randomly prompted to provide a breath sample while driving. The purpose is to confirm that an unlawful amount of alcohol is not present in their system while operating the vehicle. To submit a breath sample while driving, however, is a big distraction and takes your eyes off the road. The latter creates dangerous situations and leads to accidents.

The only way to stay safe, keep your driver's license, and avoid a criminal record is through a smart DUI defense strategy. There are no guarantees that you will keep your license and avoid a criminal conviction, but hiring an experienced PA DUI defense lawyer may improve your outcome.

Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer in Pennsylvania Today

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, it is in your best interest to seek counsel from a defense attorney experienced with DUI cases in Western Pennsylvania. Contact Former Pennsylvania State Police attorney Mike Sherman by either using our online form or calling us at (412) 471-5000 for a FREE Consultation. Put Mike's 34 years of experience to work for you!

Contact Us Today

Mike Sherman Law is committed to answering your questions about DUI defense, homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault while DUI, homicide by vehicle, CDL defense, driving while on a DUI suspension, blood or breath tests refusals, and criminal defense law issues in Pittsburgh.

We offer a free consultation and we’ll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.



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