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The Ignition Interlock Device and Your Drivers License

The Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and your Drivers License

The IID is a breathalyzer for your car. The IID requires that you blow into the mouthpiece before your car will start. Under some programs, the IID also requires periodic breath samples to keep your car operating.

The way the IID works is this: The IID interrupts the signal from the car's ignition to the motor until an acceptable breath sample is submitted. The machine may also require a so-called "rolling retest," meaning that the driver has to submit a breath sample to keep the engine running. In a rolling retest, if the breath sample is positive for alcohol, the IID sends a notification to the distributor of the device. It does NOT simply turn the engine off, which could obviously be quite dangerous. 

In Florida, an IID is required upon conviction of any second-offense DUI (no matter how long ago the original conviction was), or if the first-offense DUI breath test is over .15. A judge can order an IID in any DUI case, but it is required in the limited circumstances above. 

There are about a half-dozen companies nationwide who manufacture and distribute IID devices. They have names like Alco-Lock, SmartStart and Intoxalock. The devices are typically rented for the length of the license restriction. Ignition interlock devices are about $70 to $150 to install and about $60 to $120 per month for monitoring and calibration

If you are on probation and the IID is a condition of that probation, then a violation could send you to jail. In a case like that, you should contact a lawyer right away if you have a positive IID reading. If you are off probation, and the IID is simply a condition of your drivers license, then things get a little more complicated.

I'm Off Probation, But I'm Still on an IID. What Happens if I Violate?

If you are not on probation in Florida, then much of the IID monitoring and enforcement is done by the particular DUI School in the location where the IID is ordered. Violations of the IID (that is, positive readings for alcohol over .05) are handled in a sliding scale. 

One thing that you should remember is that the DUI School or the DHSMV will never cancel a drivers license simply for a positive IID reading. But they WILL cancel it if you do not respond to their inquiries. 

1. First violation

On a first violation of the IID, you will get a letter from the DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) in Tallahassee, ordering you to contact the DUI School in the area of your residence. If you respond and contact the DUI School, nothing will happen to your license. If you don't respond, your drivers license will be cancelled. 

When you contact the DUI School, you will be given an IID Evaluation Appointment. A counselor will sit down with you and ask what happened that made the IID give a positive reading. Maybe you had a drink. But maybe the IID was tampered with. Or maybe there was some hidden alcohol in something that you ate or drank. Flavored water can set it off. Kombucha tea can set it off, too. Even baked goods, like apple fritters or pizza, may have hidden alcohol in them. A slice of Wonder Bread has been known to cause a breath alcohol reading of over .03. This is because when yeast consume the sugars in the dough, they create ethanol as a metabolite. 

You should also know that Sorbitol, the artificial sweetener found in breath mints and sugarless gum, is also an alcohol, and will cause a positive result on any breath testing device. In fact, the chemical giveaway is the "ol" at the end of the name "Sorbitol." If you see a food additive ending in "-ol," it is likely some type of alcohol. 

If you do not respond to the letter from DHSMV to set up a meeting with the DUI School, you will be sent a second letter by the DHSMV. It is called a "20-day letter." It gives you 20 days to contact the DUI School or your drivers license will be cancelled. 

When you respond to the DHSMV letter by contacting the DUI School, they will schedule you for a "First IID Evaluation" appointment. It takes a half-hour and it costs $25. At the evaluation appointment, you will discuss what it was that caused the IID to show a positive result. 

2. Second Violation

On a second positive IID reading, you will get a another letter from DHSMV telling you to call the DUI School. If you don't respond, your license will be cancelled. If you do respond, you will be scheduled for a "Second IID Evaluation" appointment. It is a one-hour appointment and costs $55. Unless there is an innocent explanation for the violation, you will then be required to report to the DUI School monthly until your IID time is complete. 

3. Third Violation

On a third positive IID reading, you will get a referral to treatment for as long as the DUI School deems necessary. If that period exceeds the time remaining on your IID commitment, then you will have to continue the IID until the treatment is finished. 

If you finish treatment before your EOP (End of Program) date, but then get a positive IID reading after your treatment, then you will have to begin treatment all over again. And, of course, you have to keep the IID on your car until you finish. 

If you are on an IID program and have an upcoming EOP date, be very careful. Some people choose not to drive at all within a few weeks of their EOP, just to be careful. 

But remember, the only way that your license can get cancelled for a violation of the IID is if you don't show up. 

Why We're Different

Board Certification as a DUI Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense. Formal NHTSA Certification as an Instructor of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests given by police in DUI cases. Formal training as a NHTSA Drug Recognition Evaluator. ("Drug Evaluation & Classification") Formal training to operate the Intoxilyzer 8000, Florida's official breath test instrument. Extensive experience in teaching other attorneys how to handle DUI cases. Hundreds of jury trials both as defense lawyer and as prosecutor.