Interlock Ignition Devices in Colorado


The penalties involved in drunk driving arrests are more complex than those involving other criminal or traffic violations. Driving under the influence (DUI) convictions result in both criminal penalties through the court system as well as administrative penalties through the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In order to have their driving privileges reinstated, some drivers have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their car so they can drive to work, school, and go to doctors appointments after a DUI conviction.

If you have been arrested for a DUI or driving under the influence of drugs in Colorado, our Colorado DUI attorneys will answer your questions and concerns about ignition interlock devices and how an IID can allow you to get back on the road so your life can return to normal.

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An IID is a small device installed on the vehicle’s steering column. A mouthpiece is connected to the device where the driver blows their breath into the device.

After reading this article, if you have any other questions about how a Colorado DUI can affect your driving privileges, please contact us at Shouse Law Group.

1. What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) works like a breathalyzer installed on a driver's vehicle. The device requires the driver to blow an alcohol-free breath into the device before the vehicle will start. Once a clean breath is used to start the vehicle, the device will signal the driver to blow rolling samples at various intervals while the vehicle is in operation to ensure the driver is not under the influence of alcohol.

Drivers in Colorado who have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or underage drinking and driving (UDD) will lose their Colorado driver's license. Drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest will also lose their license.

The driver's license revocation time depends on the specific violation and the driver's DUI or chemical test refusal history. Drivers may have to wait up to a year or more before they can have their driver's license reinstated. However, drivers can get request an early reinstatement of their driving privileges if they have an IID installed on their vehicles.

2. How does an IID work?

An IID is a small device installed on the vehicle's steering column. A mouthpiece is connected to the device where the driver blows their breath into the device. The device tests for the presence of alcohol in the breath sample. If the driver's breath is alcohol-free, the car can start. If the device detects alcohol over the threshold level, it will record the test and prevent the car from starting. If a driver requires an IID for a restricted license, they have to have one installed on all of their vehicles.

A list of approved interlock vendors can be found on the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles website.

3. Do I have to install an IID if I get a DUI in Colorado?

Many people across Colorado rely on their cars to get them to work, to school, take their kids to the doctor, attend medical appointments, and shop for groceries. Losing your license after a DUI may not only be inconvenient, it may be impossible to return to a normal life without being able to drive. Drivers may not be required to get an IID after a DUI in Colorado. However, if you want to drive after a DUI and you do not want to wait the full driver's license revocation period, you may need to install an IID. Installing an IID in your car allows you to seek a restricted license.

For a first offense DUI in Colorado, the driver's license may be revoked for 9 months. However, the driver may be able to get a restricted IID license after waiting only one month. Drivers convicted of a second or subsequent DUI may have to have an IID in their vehicle for two years. Drivers who refuse a chemical test after a Colorado DUI arrest may lose their license for a year. These drivers can get a restricted license with an IID installation after waiting two months of the revocation period.

In addition to getting an IID, drivers may also have to meet a number of other restrictions to obtain a restricted license, including:

  • Application for Reinstatement
  • Reinstatement application fee
  • SR-22 insurance coverage for a period of up to 3 years following reinstatement
  • Completion of an alcohol and drug certification
  • Completion of an Ignition Interlock Agreement

Drivers who were tested with a BAC of 0.15% or higher may also be required to enroll in and complete an alcohol education and therapy course.

4. How much will an IID cost me?

If you want to get a restricted license, you are responsible for paying the costs to install and maintain an ignition interlock device. IIDs cost up to about $75 up to $200 to be installed and about $75 a month to be calibrated and maintained. Drivers also have to make time to have the device installed in all of their vehicles, and return for regular maintenance.

In some cases, the Department of Revenue provides financial assistance to drivers who cannot afford the costs associated with an IID. In order to qualify, the driver has to financially qualify for assistance. This is limited to first-time offenders or drivers designated as a persistent drunk driver after January 1, 2014. Drivers have to be lawfully present in the U.S., Colorado residents, and over the age of 21. The driver has to fall within a certain percentage of the current year Health and Human Services poverty guidelines. Upon approval, the Department of Revenue may then pay a portion of the driver's IID expenses.

5. Can I bypass an IID if I have to drive?

Some drivers may try and bypass the IID in order to drive their vehicle. There are a number of ways people claim to be able to trick the machine so that they can drive even if they had a drink or two. However, attempts to tamper with the machine and positive test results are recorded on the device. The court will find out about failed tests and tampering attempts.

As drivers continue to come up with ways to trick an IID, IID manufacturers continue to make improvements to thwart bypass attempts. Prior ways to trick an IID included having another person blow a clean breath into the device, using a balloon filled with an alcohol-free breath, or using compressed air to blow into the device. However, some IIDs are not fitted with cameras to record the individual blowing the breath, and others require the driver to inhale or hum into the device.

Additionally, there are a number of urban myths about tricking an IID. Needless to say, these do not work and could put you at risk of losing your driving privileges with no chance to get a restricted license until the revocation period is over. These myths include putting a penny in your mouth, smoking a cigarette, eating foods with strong smells, drinking coffee, chewing gum, rinsing with mouthwash, or even burping.

Penalties for tampering or failed breath tests may include:

  • Losing your restricted license
  • License revocation with no driving for one year
  • Additional fines
  • Extended suspension period
  • Probation violation penalties

Call us for help...

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If you have been arrested for a DUI in Colorado, please contact us at Shouse Law Group. Our caring Colorado DUI lawyers have helped our clients avoid a license suspension and get their driving privileges reinstated. We are among the best Colorado DUI defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver DUI office.

For information about California or Nevada Ignition Interlock Device laws, see to our articles about IIDs in California and IIDs in Nevada.

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