What is an ignition interlock device, and a few things you need to know?

In this post, we will explore some important information you need to know about ignition interlock systems. We used informed directly from Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program’s FAQ website section.

What is an ignition interlock device?

Ignition interlocks prevent drunk driving. To start a car, you must blow into the ignition interlock’s mouthpiece to provide a breath sample for analysis. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the pre-set limit of 0.02%, the vehicle will not start. Once started, you may be required to submit additional breath samples at random times while the engine is running. Failing, or not submitting a breath sample for one of these “rolling re-tests”, will cause your vehicle lights and horn to sound. Keep in mind, the ignition interlock contains a data logger that records all vehicle activity, test results, and violations.

Why would you have to get an ignition interlock?

Section 18.2-270.1 of the Virginia Code states that an offender, convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia, shall be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle as a condition of a restricted license or license restoration. For a Second or Subsequent DUI, interlocks must be installed in all vehicles registered or titled to an offender, in whole or in part, in addition to any vehicle(s) they operate.

How long do I have to have an ignition interlock installed on my car?

For a first DUI, you can expect to have to have the ignition interlock installed on your vehicle for at least six months, possibly more. For more information, reach our article, “How do license suspensions and restricted operator’s licenses work in Virginia DUI cases?

How do I get the interlock installed in my vehicle?

You are required to contact your servicing ASAP office to provide pertinent information, to include your independent choice of an interlock vendor and vehicle information, in order to initiate an interlock installation authorization. Once the ASAP verifies the interlock requirement, and authorizes the interlock installation, it is your responsibility to contact the interlock vendor to schedule the installation appointment.

How do you schedule an interlock instillation appointment?

Any person who enters into the Alcohol Safety Action Program prior to trial may pre-qualify with the program to schedule installation of an interlock device. You must contact the ASAP in the jurisdiction of your offense to enroll and pay any applicable fees. You may select from one of the following state-approved interlock service providers:

Can you install your ignition interlock before court to “get it over with”?

No. Although you can schedule the installation of the interlock device prior to your court date, no actual installation of the interlock device can occur until a court issues you a restricted license with the ignition interlock order. That means that you have to wait until your case is finalized and a judge has required you to install an ignition interlock.

How often do you have to have the interlock serviced?

After installation of the interlock device, you are required to report to the vendor’s service center at least every 30 days to have your interlock device calibrated and data downloaded. You carry the responsibility of making these monthly monitoring appointments with the interlock vendor. It is very important to note that state law requires that your interlock device be calibrated at least every 30 days, and failure to abide by this requirement, will result in your interlock device entering a permanent lock-out resulting in additional costs and non-compliance with the program.

What are the costs associated with the interlock?

Interlock vendors may charge up to $65 for normal interlock installations and up to $130 for more complex vehicles. The monthly calibration cost is $95 and there is no charge for removal of the interlock device. You may also purchase optional insurance to cover certain causes of loss to the interlock device. The prices mentioned here do not include applicable taxes or fees for returned checks. Please keep in mind that if you fail to keep up with your payments with the interlock service provider, services may be discontinued. If you have been declared indigent by the court for ignition interlock fees, please click here for the next step in the process.

What happens if you have someone else blow into the interlock for you?

If someone provides a breath test into an interlock device in order to provide an operable vehicle to a person subject to a Virginia interlock requirement, the consequences for both can be severe. At a minimum, both individuals can be charged with a separate class 1 misdemeanor for EACH breath test. Individuals who participate in this type of behavior will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

What if you have a medical issue that affects your ability to use the interlock device?

By default, the ignition interlock device requires 1.5 liters of breath volume. If an individual is unable to adequately provide this volume of air, they can submit a physician’s statement to their ASAP case manager indicating the maximum liter of breath volume they are able to provide. Once received, the ASAP case manager will forward the documentation to the Commission on VASAP for approval. It is imperative that you sign the VASAP Breath Reduction Form and take it to your physician as this provides the physician with important information related to the nature of your appointment. If you would like to submit your breath reduction paperwork directly to the Commission office, please click here.

What if you don’t own a vehicle? Can you have one installed on a friend’s for family member’s car?

Yes, a person, subject to a Virginia ignition interlock requirement, can have an interlock installed in a friend or family member’s vehicle but it is imperative that any operators of the vehicle are in attendance at the interlock installation appointment so that they can be trained on proper use of the interlock device. It is important to note that the interlock vendor will not install the interlock in a non-owned vehicle unless they receive a signed and notarized copy of the VASAP Consent to Install Form or the owner of the vehicle signs this document in the presence of the interlock technician at the installation appointment. For a Spanish version of this form, please click here.

Can you buy a car after you’ve already had one installed on your other vehicle?

Yes, a person can purchase an additional vehicle after installation of an interlock device in the original vehicle or vehicles. If the interlock requirement is related to a DUI 2nd or subsequent conviction, it is imperative that the person notify their ASAP case manager immediately upon purchase if not before. The reason this is important is because an interlock must be installed in the new vehicle within 10 calendar days or the person’s license will be placed in suspended status. If this occurs, the time period for which the interlock device must be installed starts over for all vehicles registered or titled to that person.

Still have questions about ignition interlocks or your DUI case?

If you’ve still got specific questions about ignition interlock, again, we highly recommend you visit VASAP’s website here. As stated at the beginning of this post, the information above was obtained from that site.

Also, make sure to check out our Virginia DUI Practice Page where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have.  James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews.  Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.