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Do I Need an Ignition Interlock Device if Charged with Florida DUI?

girl breathing into breathalyzer

Do I Need an Ignition Interlock Device

Facing a DUI in Florida? Chances are that you may have to deal with a range of potential consequences. One of them includes having to use an ignition interlock device if you want to drive. Here’s more on what that means, and what you should do if you are facing DUI charges in Florida.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An alcohol ignition interlock device wires a breathalyzer into your car’s ignition. To start the car, you must first blow into the device. If it registers a blood alcohol level of more than .025, the device will lock the ignition for a period of time, during which you cannot start the car.

For certain driving under the influence (DUI) cases, Florida law either allows or requires courts to order interlock devices installed. If a court orders interlocks installed as part of your DUI case, one has to be installed in each vehicle that you own or lease (whether by yourself or jointly with someone else) and which you routinely drive. Each interlock is installed at your expense once you regain driving privileges.

When The Court May Order Installation

In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI in two ways. First, the state could prove that you were under the influence of either alcohol or another listed chemical substance and that, as a result, your normal faculties were impaired. The other way is to prove that you had a blood alcohol level of more than .08. If this is your first DUI offense and you were convicted based on your BAC, the court may order an interlock installed for at least six months.

Mandatory Installation

On your 2nd DUI, the court must order interlocks installed for at least one year. If you have a 3rd DUI and it occurs within ten years of your last conviction, the offense is elevated to a third-degree felony. In addition to mandatory fines and imprisonment, the court must order interlocks installed for at least two years.

Each DUI after the 3rd is a third-degree felony, regardless of when you were convicted of the others. In addition to other penalties, each subsequent DUI results in mandatory interlocks for at least five years.

A 1st or 2nd conviction can be enhanced – that is, made worse – if your blood alcohol level was .15 or higher, or if you had a minor (a person under 18) in the car with you. If either condition applies to your case, it carries a mandatory interlock install. If it’s your first offense, you must drive with an interlock for at least six months. If it’s your second, the interlock period will be at least two years.

Other Rules About Interlocks

It is illegal to physically tamper with an interlock. It is also illegal for someone to blow into your interlock to start a car for you to drive, or for you to ask another person to do that. If you are under orders to drive with an interlock installed, it is illegal for someone to lend you a car, unless that car also has an interlock. Any violations of these rules will result in a loss of driving privileges for at least one year.

If you have to drive a company car for work and you don’t own the business, the car does not have to have an interlock. But your employer must be notified that you are under restriction to only drive cars with interlocks, and you have to carry in the car a written record of that notice and your employer’s permission to drive the car.

Interlock Procedure

You may have an interlock installed as part of regaining either full or limited driving privileges. The court will require proof that you have had the interlocks installed before it gives a final order restoring your ability to drive. If the court orders an interlock but you don’t receive a license suspension, you will need to show the court within 30 days that you had the device installed.

If you cannot afford to have the interlock installed, you will have an opportunity to prove it to the court. If you satisfy the court that you cannot pay, it may order that a portion of the fine you pay will go toward paying for the installation.

To have interlocks installed, you will need to contact one of the providers certified by the state. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department maintains an online list of approved vendors.

If you are under orders to drive with an interlock, you must have a “P” restriction entered on your driving record. The time that you must drive under interlock doesn’t start to run until the restriction is entered. Once you have the device installed, you must visit either a driver’s license service center or your county tax collector’s office to have the restriction added. Note that anyone driving your car will have to blow into the interlock to start it.

The interlock can randomly signal for a rolling retest while you are driving, usually within the first five or ten minutes. If the interlock signals for a rolling retest, you have three minutes to blow. If you don’t blow for the retest in time, an alarm will sound and you will need to blow to shut it off. In addition, the failure to blow will show up as a missed test, which may result in you being locked out from driving for a period of time. A missed rolling retest will not turn off the car.

Contact Our DUI Attorney to Protect Your Rights

There is a lot at stake when being charged with a DUI in Florida. The penalties and consequences possibly include the requirement for you to use an ignition interlock device. If you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, promptly consult with an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you better understand your charges and possible defenses. The Watson Firm, PLLC is devoted to helping people resolve DUI charges in the most favorable manner possible. We are on your side and will work hard to protect your rights.

Reach out to The Watson Firm, PLLC for a free consultation by calling (850) 403-4779 or by contacting us online.