How Does An Ignition Interlock Device Work?

Nothing is more worrying that being pulled over by the police, especially if you have been drinking. Just a drink or two in Colorado could see you charged with DWAI (a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .05 and .08) or even DUI (a BAC of .08 or more). Both of these charges can lead to jail time, fines and community service, in addition to other types of penalties involving your ability to drive.

When you are given a DWAI or DUI citation, there are two different types of license suspensions you can be given. The first one is known as an administrative suspension, which is an automatic suspension of your license by the state’s motor vehicle department when your BAC is at least .08. The other suspension comes from the sentence that is imposed by the court after you’ve agreed to a plea bargain or gone to trial and been found guilty.

In some cases, you can get your license back after serving some of your suspension, but it’s going to be with some strings attached. In order to get your license back before your suspension period ends, you will need to have an ignition interlock installed on every vehicle you own or have access to.

How do these devices work?

An ignition interlock can measure the alcohol in your breath in a way that is similar to the breathalyzer used by police officers. If your alcohol level exceeds the level preset on the device, the ignition interlock device will temporarily prevent the vehicle from starting by disabling its ignition system. This prevents the driver from using the vehicle.

As with a breathalyzer, you blow into the device once you enter your car. If no alcohol is found, the car will start as it normally does. If alcohol is found, you have to wait a preset amount of time–usually a few minutes, but it varies by model–before the device will allow you to try again. If the device continues to find alcohol on subsequent tests, you will be locked out for longer and longer periods of time.

Colorado, like other states, also require drivers convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses to submit to random re-tests. This is done to make sure the driver isn’t drinking after they get the car to start. The device will usually let off an audible alert that signals to the driver another test is needed. Should alcohol be found on a re-test, the system will not shut the engine off while the car is moving, but it will indicate the driver should stop by flashing the lights and setting the horn off.

On top of alerting the driver and disabling the car’s ignition system, the data that comes from the test is usually sent by the device to the DMV. It may also be sent to a probation officer assigned to the driver or another court official.

A DUI conviction is bad enough, but not being able to drive can make it impossible for you to earn a living or go about your daily life. If you need legal assistance regarding your DUI charge, contact a lawyer in Denver, CO today.

Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and DUI convictions.