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Ignition Interlock Myths: Debunking Mistaken DUII Beliefs


Although we know that driving under the influence of intoxicants is a highly dangerous decision, the reality is that people drive impaired almost 300,000 times each day. However, fewer than 4,000 are arrested. If you do happen to be arrested and get convicted or enter diversion, you will likely have to get an ignition interlock device. This device prevents an individual from operating the vehicle after consuming alcohol by requiring the driver to blow into a mouthpiece that detects and records the presence of alcohol.

While that might sound simple enough, DUII defense attorneys are asked countless questions about IID requirements, such as factors that could lead to a false reading and whether or not their clients are responsible for installation costs. Confusion surrounding ignition interlock devices often leads to widely held misconceptions. We’re setting the record straight on a few of those below.

MYTH: I’ll fail my IID test if I consume certain foods.

Reality: Occasionally, there are certain things that will set off an interlock device. IID’s are meant to detect even very small amounts of alcohol in your system, so eating foods—like pastries containing yeast or spicy cuisine—or swishing around alcohol-based mouthwash could skew your reading if you don’t wash out your mouth with water and wait a few minutes before blowing into the IID. Make it a practice to wait 15 minutes after eating or drinking anything prior to getting into your car.

MYTH: Rolling re-tests are unsafe and could cause an accident.

Reality: You’ll have more than enough time to take a rolling re-test safely. When you first get into your vehicle, you’ll need to blow into the device to start your engine. You may also be required to take a re-test sometime during your ride. This could be distracting, it is important to always drive cautiously while using this device.

MYTH: IID’s can shut off the car engine at any time.

Reality: An IID won’t just shut off your vehicle, even if you fail a breath test. These devices prevent a vehicle from starting, but they won’t shut down your car in the middle of a ride for any reason. Taking a rolling re-test will record the violation if you fail, but it won’t stop your car and put you in harm’s way. Remember that the job of an IID is to keep you and others safe. If you have further questions about what your IID is capable of (and what it can’t do), be sure to ask your DUII defense attorney for clarification.

MYTH: IIDs can drain your car battery.

Reality: Unless you just don’t drive your car for two weeks straight, it’s unlikely that your interlock device will drain your battery to the point where it wouldn’t start. It’s understandable that you’d be worried about damage to your vehicle, but this isn’t something you’ll really need to be concerned about. As long as your vehicle’s electrical system is in good working order, the ignition interlock draining your battery should not be a concern.

MYTH: These devices are expensive to install.

Reality: It’s true that you will have to bear the cost of the IID installation and operation. Some states do have programs to help offenders who cannot afford the full ignition interlock device costs. Fortunately, they probably aren’t as high as you’d think. MADD estimates that installation costs anywhere from $70 to $150 to install, and anywhere from $60 to $80 every month for calibration and device monitoring. Your DUII defense attorney will tell you that you should refrain from drinking alcohol during this time, so the money you’ll save on alcohol purchases could easily go toward these IID costs.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, you’ll need an experienced DUII defense attorney to help protect your rights. Contact us today to learn more.

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