Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) under California DUI Law

Ignition interlock devices (commonly referred to as IIDs) are miniature DUI breath test instruments that are installed in the dashboard of your car and prevent your car from operating unless you provide an alcohol-free breath sample. IIDs are increasingly popular as a California DUI penalty

In this article, our California DUI defense attorneys answer the following frequently asked questions about ignition interlock devices and California DUI law:

If after reading this article, you have additional questions, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

1. What is an Ignition Interlock Device, and How Do IIDs Work?

As previously stated, an ignition interlock device is a type of mini-breathalyzer instrument.  About the size of a cell phone, it is installed on the steering column of your car.

If the judge orders you to install an IID as part of your California DUI probation, you must:

  1. have the IID professionally installed, and
  2. have an IID installed in every car you own or drive.1 (Employer-owned cars2 and motorcycles3 are exempt from this rule.)

Before you start your car, you must blow into the IID and provide an alcohol-free breath sample.  If you don't, your car will not start.  Once you are driving, the IID will ask for random samples, between 5-15 minutes after you begin driving and then about every 45 minutes thereafter.

When the instrument asks for these "rolling" samples, you have six minutes to provide a sample--plenty of time to pull over if you don't feel that you can safely provide a sample while driving.

Driver-blowing-in-ignition-interlock-device
An ignition interlock device is a mini-DUI breath test that you must take before and while you drive your car.

If you don't "pass", your ignition interlock device will not disable your car. The IID will, however, register a "fail" on your log that gets reported to the court.

It must be noted that California ignition interlock devices are designed to ensure that only you as the driver can provide your own breath sample.  This is accomplished by:

  • requiring a specific breath pattern for the sample,
  • having a very short cord that will not reach to the passenger or back seats,
  • requiring random samples, even while driving, and
  • making it a crime to ask someone else to fraudulently provide his/her sample in lieu of yours.4

In addition, the technology of California IIDs is so advanced that the IID detects and records:

  • any attempts to disconnect or tamper with the device,5
  • all engine starts and stops, and
  • all breath test results.

Once you have installed a California IID, you must take it in for servicing at least every 60 days.6

2. Will I Have to Install an IID If I Am Convicted of California DUI?

A judge can order you to install a California ignition interlock device for any offense that is DUI-related. This means that you may be required to install an IID if you suffer a conviction for

Judge's-hand-beside-gavel
in most of California, the judge has discretion as to whether to require an IID after a VC 23152 or 23153 DUI conviction.

In general, a judge may require you to install a California IID for up to three (3) years in any case where he/she believes is appropriate to do so. Typically, this is usually only done on a first offense if:

  1. your BAC was at or above 0.15%, or
  2. you refuse to submit to a chemical blood or breath test.7

In addition to situations where a judge may require you to install an ignition interlock device, there are a number of DUI conviction scenarios where a judge must require you to install an IID.

First-time DUI offenses in pilot program counties

A new "pilot project" for California IIDs went into effect in July 2010.  This law, Vehicle Code 23700 VC,  requires that every individual convicted of a first-offense California DUI in certain counties must install an IID on any car he/she operates and/or drives.

The counties to which the mandatory IID law applies are:

  • Los Angeles County,
  • Alameda County,
  • Tulare County, and
  • Sacramento County.

The judge will order a standard first-time DUI offender in one of these counties to install an ignition interlock device for five (5) months. If, however you are convicted of Vehicle Code 23153 VC DUI causing injury, you must install the device for one year.8

If this law requiring IIDs for all first-offense DUIs serves as an effective deterrent--meaning that the number of repeat DUIs is reduced--then it will eventually go into effect statewide. As of now, it is set to expire on July 1, 2017--but the California legislature may choose to extend the IID pilot program to the entire state before then.9

Car-keys-in-ignition
Vehicle Code 23700 VC is a pilot program requiring IID installation for DUI offenders in four counties.

Repeat DUI offenses  in pilot program counties

VC 23700 (the mandatory IID pilot program) also affects California repeat DUI offenders who live in one of the four counties mentioned above (Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento). Under this law, the judge must order you to install a California IID for a period of:

  • one (1) year following a second DUI offense,
  • two (2) years following a third DUI offense and
  • three (3) years following a fourth or subsequent conviction.10

And if you are convicted of a second DUI causing injury, you must install the IID for two (2) years (three years for a third conviction and four years for a fourth or subsequent conviction).

The following table summarizes the required period of IID installation for various DUI offenses under Vehicle Code 23700 VC, in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento Counties only:

Type of DUI Conviction

Period of Mandatory IID Installation

(VC 23700 pilot program: LA, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento Counties)

VC 23152(a) or 23152(b): first offense

5 months

VC 23152(a) or 23152(b): second offense

1 year

VC 23152(a) or 23152(b): third offense

2 years

VC 23152(a) or 23152(b): fourth or subsequent offense

3 years

VC 23153 DUI causing injury: first offense

1 year

VC 23153 DUI causing injury: second offense

2 years

VC 23153 DUI causing injury: third offense

3 years

VC 23153 DUI causing injury: fourth or subsequent offense

4 years

 If you live outside of the counties governed by this new law, there is no automatic requirement that the judge order you to install an IID following a second or subsequent DUI conviction.

Mandatory IID for VC 14601 driving on a suspended license

There are, however, requirements for IID installation following one or more convictions for Vehicle Code 14601 driving on a suspended license when the suspension / revocation was based on a DUI conviction.

Depending on the exact license violation--and on how many prior DUI and/or suspended license violations you have suffered--the judge may order you to install an IID for one (1) to three (3) years.11

California-drivers-license
You may be required to install an ignition interlock device as a condition of obtaining a restricted license after a California DUI.

IID as condition of restricted license

If you are a repeat DUI offender and wish to obtain a restricted driver's license, the California DMV will require you to install an IID as well.12 A restricted license allows you to drive to/from work, school, or a court-ordered alcohol program while your driver's license is otherwise suspended or revoked.

3. How Much Does a California Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

On average, the cost of a California IID is about $2.50 per day.  Some companies additionally charge around $75-$100 for installation.  You may also be required to pay fees for maintenance and calibration of your ignition interlock device.

Under California's mandatory IID pilot program law (Vehicle Code 23700 VC), if you can't afford the cost of your mandatory IID, you will only be required to pay a portion of the costs.13

4. How Do I find a Court-Approved IID Installer?

If a California court requires you to install an ignition interlock device on your car, you must go to an authorized installer to have it done. Several private companies are approved by the courts.

IID installation companies you may want to consider include:

5. Can a California IID Register a "False Positive"?

Most ignition interlock devices operate on fuel cell technology. Fuel cell technology is alcohol-specific and isn't affected by outside interference. This means that there is little chance of your IID registering a "false positive" because of cigarette smoke, perfume, gasoline, etc.

However, any amount of alcohol that is blown into an ignition interlock device will register. This means that if you use mouthwash with alcohol in it, eat liquor-filled candy, or even eat a pastry (sometimes the combination of sugar and active yeast produce low levels of alcohol), the IID will pick up on and register alcohol in your blood sample.

The good news is that when alcohol registers, you will usually be given the opportunity to retest almost immediately.  The low levels of alcohol that may be present in these types of situations quickly disappear.  Rinsing your mouth with water in between samples can help to expedite this process.

Call us for help . . . 

DUI-defense-firm-call-center

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI and would like to learn more about ignition interlock devices (IIDs), we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

For information about Nevada ignition interlock devices, go to our article on Nevada ignition interlock devices.



Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 23575 VC -- Court-mandated use of ignition interlock device.  ("(a)(1) In addition to any other provisions of law, the court may require that a person convicted of a first offense [DUI] violation of [Vehicle Code] Section 23152 or 23153 install a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that the person owns or operates and prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock device. . . . (l) This section does not restrict a court from requiring installation of an ignition interlock device and prohibiting operation of a motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning, certified [California] ignition interlock device for a person to whom subdivision (a) or (b) does not apply [who has previously been convicted of Vehicle Code 23152a driving under the influence].")
  2. California Vehicle Code 23576 VC -- Motor vehicle owned by employer; exception.  ("(a) Notwithstanding [Vehicle Code] Section 23575, if a person is required to operate a motor vehicle in the course and scope of his or her employment and if the vehicle is owned by the employer, the person may operate that vehicle without installation of an approved ignition interlock device if the employer has been notified by the person that the person's driving privilege has been restricted pursuant to Section 23575 [requiring mandatory use of a California IID] and if the person has proof of that notification in his or her possession, or if the notice, or a facsimile copy thereof, is with the vehicle. (b) A motor vehicle owned by a business entity that is all or partly owned or controlled by a person otherwise subject to Section 23575, is not a motor vehicle owned by the employer subject to the exemption in subdivision (a).")
  3. California Vehicle Code 23575 VC -- Court-mandated use of ignition interlock device -- subdivision "m".  ("(m) For the purposes of this section, "vehicle" does not include a motorcycle until the state certifies an ignition interlock device that can be installed on a motorcycle. Any person subject to an ignition interlock device restriction shall not operate a motorcycle for the duration of the ignition interlock device restriction period.")
  4. California Vehicle Code 23247 VC -- Violation of Vehicle Code 13352 or 23575 VC; punishment; defenses. ("(b) It is unlawful for any person whose driving privilege is restricted pursuant to Section 13352 [because of a California DUI conviction] or 23575 [requiring the mandatory installation of a California IID] to request or solicit any other person to blow into an ignition interlock device or to start a motor vehicle equipped with the device for the purpose of providing the person so restricted with an operable motor vehicle.  (c) It is unlawful to blow into an ignition interlock device or to start a motor vehicle equipped with the device for the purpose of providing an operable motor vehicle to a person whose driving privilege is restricted pursuant to Section 13352 or 23575.")
  5. See same.  ("(g)...The installer shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if the device is removed or indicates that the person has attempted to remove, bypass, or tamper with the device, or if the person fails three or more times to comply with any requirement for the maintenance or calibration of the [California] ignition interlock device.")
  6. See same.  ("(g) A person whose driving privilege is restricted by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to Section 13352 [a restriction based on a California DUI] shall arrange for each vehicle with an ignition interlock device to be serviced by the installer at least once every 60 days in order for the installer to recalibrate the device and monitor the operation of the device.")
  7. California Vehicle Code 23575 VC -- Court-mandated use of ignition interlock device.   ("The court shall give heightened consideration to applying this sanction to a first offense [DUI] violator with 0.15 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at arrest, or with two or more prior moving traffic violations, or to persons who refused [to submit to] the chemical [blood or breath] tests at arrest.")
  8. California Vehicle Code 23700 VC -- Pilot program to reduce driving under the influence offenses [through mandatory IID installation for first offenders]; establishment in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare Counties.  ("(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall establish a pilot program in the Counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare to reduce the number of first-time violations and repeat offenses of Sections 23152 and 23153, as follows: (1) The Department of Motor Vehicles, upon receipt of the court's abstract conviction for a violation listed in paragraph (7), shall inform the convicted person of the requirements of this section, including the term for which the person is required to have a certified ignition interlock device installed. The records of the department shall reflect the mandatory use of the device for the term required and the time when the device is required to be installed by this code. . . .")
  9. California Vehicle Code 23702 VC -- Duration of chapter [mandatory IID installation pilot program]. ("This chapter shall become inoperative on July 1, 2017, and, as of January 1, 2018, is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that becomes operative on or before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends the dates on which it becomes inoperative and is repealed.")
  10. See same.
  11. California Vehicle Code 23573 VC -- Violations necessitating ignition interlock device...  ("(j) In addition to all other requirements of this code, a person convicted of any of the following violations shall be punished as follows: (1) Upon a conviction of a violation of Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5 [DUI-related license suspensions] subsequent to one prior conviction of a violation of Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, [a California wet reckless or DUI] within a 10-year period, the person shall immediately install a certified ignition interlock device, pursuant to this section, in all vehicles owned or operated by that person for a term of one year. (2) Upon a conviction of a violation of [Vehicle Code] Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5 subsequent to two prior convictions of a violation of Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, within a 10-year period, or one prior conviction of Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5, within a 10-year period, the person shall immediately install a certified ignition interlock device, pursuant to this section, in all vehicles owned or operated by that person for a term of two years. (3) Upon a conviction of a violation of [Vehicle Code] Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5 subsequent to three or more prior convictions of a violation of Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, within a 10-year period, or two or more prior convictions of Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5, within a 10-year period, the person shall immediately install a certified [California] ignition interlock device, pursuant to this section, in all vehicles owned or operated by that person for a term of three years.")
  12. California DMV website - ("If you have been convicted of a second or subsequent DUI violation and have completed at least one year of your DUI suspension/revocation you may qualify for a restricted driver license if you meet these requirements:
    • Install an IID on your vehicle and provide DMV with a "Verification of Installation" Ignition Interlock (DL 920) form.
    • Clear all other outstanding suspensions/revocations on your driving record.
    • Comply with a DUI program's requirements and have the program provider submit either a Proof of Enrollment Certificate (DL 107) or Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101) form to DMV (whichever applies to your case).
    • Submit an Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22) form issued by your auto insurance company to DMV establishing proof of financial responsibility.
    • Pay all required fees, including the $15 IID restriction fee.")
  13. See California Vehicle Code 23700 VC -- Pilot program to reduce driving under the influence offenses [through mandatory IID installation for first offenders]; establishment in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare Counties, endnote 8 above.

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