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How do ignition interlock devices work?

The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill that would make installation of ignition interlock devices mandatory for first time DUI convictions. Currently, the use of these devices is mandatory only for repeat offenders. But, many people do not understand the purpose of these devices or how they work.

An ignition interlock device is intended to prevent a driver who has more than one DUI conviction from starting an automobile if intoxicated. Before starting a car, the driver must blow into a small nozzle on the interlock device. The device then measures the BAC in much the same way as a breathalyzer. If the driver's BAC level is greater than the level specified in the court order, the interlock device will prevent the driver from starting the car.

Most interlock devices record the results of each test and whether the driver passed or failed. The interlock device can be inspected by the police at any time. If the record of failed tests shows a high failure rate, the court may impose a stiffer sentence, such as revoking or suspending the person's license. These devices also record any kind of tampering, including attempts to remove the device.

Under current Pennsylvania DUI laws, an interlock device can be ordered only for the second or subsequent DUI conviction. Anyone facing a criminal charge for allegedly failing a breathalyzer test or an ignition interlock test may benefit from getting more information about the relevant laws. It may be helpful to get an evaluation of the facts of the case, an enumeration of potential defense strategies and an estimate of the chances of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: LifeSafer, Inc., "What is an Interlock?", accessed on Oct. 5, 2015

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