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Ignition Interlock: what it is and how it works

Most people in Pennsylvania understand that an ignition interlock device can be used to prevent a person from operating a motor vehicle if they have alcohol in their blood stream. This post will explain how an ignition interlock device works and summarize the conditions under which a person can be required to use one.

The court can order any person convicted of a DUI offense to use an interlock device beginning one year after any license suspension has begun. The interlock system must be installed on every car that the driver owns, and the driver must pay the cost of the system (approximately $1,000 per year per vehicle). If the driver violates the terms of the interlock order by failing to use the system or by attempting to disable it, the court can impose additional penalties. Every driver required to use an interlock device is issued a special license; if the person is stopped by a law enforcement officer, and is not driving a properly equipped vehicle, he or she may be subject to additional penalties and fines.

An ignition interlock device works much like a breathalyzer. The device attaches to the ignition switch in a car. The driver must breathe into a mouthpiece. If the device detects alcohol in the driver's bloodstream, the car will not start. Most ignition interlock devices are designed so that they cannot be removed or tampered with. The device also requires the driver to repeat the test at specified intervals while driving to ensure that no alcohol was consumed after the vehicle was started. The devices must be installed and removed by an approved provider.

Anyone who has been charged with a DUI offense may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in drunk driving cases. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the facts and law of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea bargain or outright acquittal.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, "IGNITION INTERLOCK 'THE LAW'," accessed on Nov. 28, 2016

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