Ignition Devices for DUI Offenses: Can I Get a Waiver?


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Due to the public recognition of the risks of accidents caused by drinking and driving, many states have implemented laws that require the installation of an ignition interlock device, especially during second or subsequent convictions. In some situations, a person may try to waive the requirement to install this device in their vehicle.

Ignition Interlock Devices

An ignition interlock device is installed into a vehicle. Before the driver can drive the vehicle, he or she must breath into the device to demonstrate that his or her blood alcohol content level is below the specified limit. If the person has a blood alcohol content level of over the prescribed limit, the vehicle will not start. If the sample is approved, the car will start. Some devices are more sophisticated than others and take extra steps to ensure that the defendant is not using someone else to blow into the machine. Some conditions of release may require the company monitoring the use of the device to report a positive blow into the device.

Typically, these devices are installed at the criminal defendantís own expense. There is typically an initial installation fee. Then, there is a monthly monitoring fee. The defendant may also be required to take the vehicle with the device for maintenance purposes.

Requirement to Install an Ignition Interlock Device

In criminal cases, the defendant may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device as one of his or her punishments. In some states, this requirement is mandatory. In others, it is a discretionary punishment. In other jurisdictions, this may be a requirement for someone who wants to reinstate his or her license. The amount of time that the device must be installed depends on the defendantís state laws and his or her specific penalty. The more DUI convictions a person has, the longer the period of time that the device must be installed in most cases.

Reasons an Ignition Interlock Device Is Installed

An ignition interlock device is installed to protect the safety of others on the roadway from motorists who have already been found guilty of a drinking and driving offense. Additionally, they may help criminal defendant avoid repeating the same offense. At the same time, the installation of this device allows defendants to drive to get to work, school, doctorís appointments and other locations since they can still drive.

Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device Laws

Some states have passed laws that require the installation of these devices. In these states, a criminal defendant may be unable to request a waiver regarding the requirement to install this device.

Waiver of Ignition Interlock Device

Some jurisdictions do permit a criminal defendant to request a waiver regarding the installation of an ignition interlock device. These waivers may be based on the defendantís criminal history, the circumstances why the defendant is requesting a waiver, the duration requirement of the ignition interlock device and other factors. For example, in some states if the defendant is
enrolled in an alcohol treatment program for a certain period of time, the defendant may be able to request a waiver. Other jurisdictions only permit a waiver if the defendant can show the installation of an ignition interlock device would be an undue hardship. You may be required to submit an affidavit to support the reasons why you need the waiver and why the requirement for the installation would be an undue hardship. The judge may have to make an order to grant the waiver. In other situations, this process may be completed through an application process.

Discretionary Decision

In jurisdictions that permit ignition interlock device waivers, the decision is usually based on the discretion of the judge or other official. Generally, people will not have a right to a waiver. The judge makes the decision based on the financial and other circumstances that support the waiver application while weighing the potential risks to safety and usurping the original order.

Legal Assistance

If you would like to investigate if you may be able to receive a waiver on the requirement to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. He or she can tell you the rules in the state where you live and the process involved. He or she may be able to assist you with your application or motion to try to receive a waiver. He or she can explain the standard that you will need to meet in order to receive the waiver.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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