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What is an ignition interlock device?

One of the devices that is commonly used by Washington courts to prevent persons with DUI convictions from operating a motor vehicle if they have been drinking is the ignition interlock. IIDs, as they are commonly called, determine the driver's blood alcohol content by taking a breath sample, much like a breathalyzer. If the driver's blood alcohol content exceeds 0.025 percent, the vehicle will not start because the IID interrupts the ignition circuit. If the driver attempts to disable the IID, the car will not start.

The convictions that require the installation of an IID are an alcohol or drug-related DUI and some convictions for reckless driving or negligent driving. The court may also order the installation of an IID if the circumstances of the case warrant such a sentence. An IID must be installed in every vehicle that is operated by the defendant. For a first DUI conviction, the IID must remain installed for at least one year, for a second offence, at least five years and for a third or subsequent offense, at least 10 years.

A driver who is ordered to use an IID must purchase the device from an installer that has been approved by the state. When the period of compliance is complete, the installer will provide a certificate to the state attesting to the driver's completion of the required use of the IID. The state may provide financial support for low income drivers.

An IID can impose significant limitations on a person's ability to drive. Anyone who is facing a drunk driving charge may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice on the case and an estimate of the likelihood of being required to use an IID.

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