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What Is An Ignition Interlock Device? When Is It Used In California?


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device that is installed in a vehicle and prevents it from starting unless the driver blows into the device and registers a value of zero for alcohol. It also requires a driver to periodically blow into it while driving. If the driver fails to do so, the vehicle will turn off. The idea is that they don’t want people driving with alcohol in their system. If a person has had multiple drunk driving arrests and wants to get their license back prior to the end of the suspension period, then they will be required to have an IID.

As of January 1, 2019, there is a new law in California regarding license suspensions for people arrested January 1, 2019 or later.

Suspension Based On The DMV Hearing

Your license gets suspended for 4 months. That means you can’t drive at all during that 4 months. There are two options for driving during that period.

OPTION 1: IGNITION INTERLOCK

If you put an ignition interlock (IID) on your car during that time, you can drive anywhere you want to during that time period. An IID is the device you blow into in order to start your car and keep it running. You would have to have it for 4 months. If your license gets suspended based on a conviction in court also, any time you spend on the interlock will be credited to that suspension based on the conviction. That means IID time here will shorten IID time on the conviction suspension.

OPTION 2: RESTRICTED LICENSE

If you get suspended, after being suspended for 30 days you can apply to get a restricted license that would allow you to drive to, from and in the course of any employment and to and from the DUI school. The restriction would last for 5 months. Please note: if you get suspended based on a conviction in court, you will not be able to credit any restricted time towards that suspension. (current read of the law is that you get credit for IID time but not restriction time)

(Remember, this is a separate suspension from the one based on a conviction in court.)

Suspension Based On A Conviction In Court

If your blood alcohol level is less than .20 your suspension will be 6 months. If your blood alcohol level is .20 or higher your suspension will be for 10 months. Suspended means you can’t drive at all. (Remember, this is a separate suspension from the one based on the DMV hearing.) BUT, there are some options or caveats to this suspension:

  1. The judge can order you to have an IID during the suspension period. If that happens then you MUST put an IID on your car. But, if you do that, you can drive with the IID anywhere you want during that time period.
  2. If the judge does not order the IID, you can still voluntarily put the IID on your car and drive during the suspension period.
  3. If the judge does not order the IID, you also have the option of getting a restricted license that will allow you to drive ONLY to and from and in the course of work and to and from the DUI school. This option only applies if you have been convicted in court. If you choose this option, you will not have to put an IID on your car, but your restriction will last 12 months. You will not get your license back in 6 or 10 months. You will not get credit for the time you were on a restricted license based on the DMV hearing suspension.
  4. If you are ordered to do the IID or if you choose to do the IID, you will get credit for any time you had the IID on your car from the suspension based on the DMV hearing.

In order to get a license under the IID provisions you must:

  1. Put an IID on your car.
  2. Have SR-22 insurance.
  3. Be enrolled in the appropriate DUI school.

NOTE: You will lose the IID license if you get kicked out of the DUI school.

NOTE: You will not get your completely valid license (not requiring an IID) back until you complete the DUI school.

In order to get a restricted license:

  1. Get enrolled in the appropriate DUI school.
  2. Have SR-22 insurance.
  3. Go to the DMV and pay a re-issuance fee and get the restricted license.

NOTE: You will lose the restricted license if you get kicked out of the DUI school.

NOTE: You must finish the DUI school for a completely valid license

SR-22 Insurance

There are companies that specialize in getting SR-22 insurance to people with DUIs. I recommend that you always call those companies and talk to them first, before you tell your own insurance company about the DUI. These companies may be able to save you significant money if you talk to them before (1) your license gets suspended, (2) before you get convicted in court and (3) before your current insurance company finds out about the suspension or conviction.

Special Situations

If you must drive a company car while you have the IID requirement, you must either (1) have an IID on that company car or (2) have your company fill out a DMV form saying they know you have the IID requirement and that they are letting you drive a company car that does not have one, but that they are only letting you drive it for work purposes.

If you have a commercial driver’s license, the IID provisions do NOT save your commercial restriction. You will still not be able to drive a commercial vehicle for 1 year (that requires a commercial license).

Please note, this is a new law. Periodic updates in how this works will be made. The courts and DMV offices will be figuring out how this practically is implemented which means there could be some modifications to what is listed above over time. There are even some disagreements between entities as to some of the provisions of the new law.

For more information on Ignition Interlock Device In California, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (925) 308-6444 today.

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