Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are breath testing machines that are installed in cars. Courts in Colorado can require IIDs for people who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). The devices keep a car from starting until they have tested an alcohol-free breath sample.
- John is convicted of drunk driving. He has an ignition interlock device installed in his car so he can drive to work.
Having an ignition interlock device installed in your car can be one of the repercussions of a DUI conviction. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense attorneys will explain:
- 1. What is an ignition interlock device and how does it work?
- 2. Who has to install an IID?
- 3. How much does an IID cost to install and maintain?
- 4. What happens if you violate your driving terms?
- 5. Where can you get an IID installed in your vehicle?
- 6. DUI offenses related to ignition interlock devices
1. What is an ignition interlock device and how does it work?
An ignition interlock device, or IID, is a breath-testing machine. It is installed in your car. It keeps the car from starting until it tests a breath sample that has no alcohol in it. The device also requires alcohol-free breath samples to keep the car in motion. This device is meant to prevent driving under the influence of alcohol.
IIDs are small chemical test devices that measure blood alcohol content (BAC). They are installed in a vehicle’s steering column. A cord extends from the device in the steering column. It connects to a device that can be mounted on the car’s control panel or center console.
In order to start the car, the ignition interlock device needs to receive a breath sample. That breath sample has to be alcohol-free. If there is no alcohol on your breath, the IID will allow the car to start normally. If there is alcohol in the breath sample, the IID will keep the car from starting.
Once the car is in motion, the IID can continue to demand ongoing breath samples. These are called random retests. Drivers have between 4 and 6 minutes to provide a breath sample for a random retest. If a sample from a random retest has alcohol on it, the IID will tell you to pull over and turn the car off. Some IIDs are made to beep the horn and flash the lights until you turn the car off.
Random retests are required in Colorado for two reasons:
- To make sure drivers do not drink alcohol while driving, and
- To keep drivers from having a sober person provide the breath sample that starts the car.
2. Who has to install an IID?
Installing an ignition interlock device is required if you want to get a restricted license.1 If you do not want a restricted license for early reinstatement of driving privileges, you do not have to install an IID.
A restricted license is a type of driver’s license. It only allows you to drive in certain situations. You can get a restricted license after your license has been suspended for violating DUI laws. Common conditions put on restricted licenses allow you to drive:
- To and from work or school,
- During certain times of the day, usually between 8am and 6pm, or
- To doctor’s appointments or other specific commitments, like court appearances and alcohol classes.
You can only drive in Colorado with a restricted license. You cannot leave the state.
A restricted driver’s license is also known as a:
- Provisional license,
- Probationary license, and
- Red license.
Depending on the DUI conviction, you can be eligible for a restricted driver’s license. When you can first apply for a restricted license depends on the conviction. How long you need to have an ignition interlock device in your car also depends on the conviction:
|DUI Offense||Length of License Suspension||How Long You Have to Wait to Apply for a Restricted License||How Long You Need to Have an IID in Your Car|
|1st DUI Conviction of 0.08% BAC or Higher||9 months||Immediately||At least 6 months|
|1st DUI Conviction of 0.15% BAC or Higher||9 months||Immediately||At least 2 years|
|2nd DUI Conviction of 0.08% BAC or Higher||1 year||Immediately||At least 2 years|
|Refusing to Take a BAC Test – 1st Offense||1 year||2 months||At least 2 years|
|Refusing to Take a BAC Test – 2nd Offense||2 years||2 months||At least 2 years|
|Refusing to Take a BAC Test – At Least Your 3rd Offense||3 years||2 months||At least 2 years|
To get a restricted license, you will also have to meet other requirements. These are in addition to installing an IID in your vehicle. You have to:
- Be a Colorado resident,
- Be at least 21 years old at the time of your DUI arrest,
- Apply for reinstatement of your license,
- Pay the reinstatement application fee,
- Complete an alcohol and drug certification,
- Complete an alcohol education and therapy course, if your conviction involved a BAC over 0.15%,
- Sign the ignition interlock device agreement, and
- Provide proof of SR-22 insurance coverage for up to 3 years.
3. How much does an IID cost to install and maintain?
You have to pay the costs of installing and maintaining an ignition interlock device. The costs depend on the company that provides the IID. Most companies lease ignition interlock devices. They typically charge around:
- $70 to $200 to install, and
- $60 to $90 per month to maintain.
Maintaining an IID involves bringing it to the IID company for regular calibrations.
In Colorado, financial assistance is available for ignition interlock devices. To qualify for financial assistance, you have to:
- Either be a first-time offender or designated as a persistent drunk driver,
- Be a U.S. citizen,
- Be a Colorado resident,
- Be over 21 at the time of the DUI, and
- Have state tax returns that show an income close to the Poverty Guidelines.
4. What happens if you violate your driving terms?
Violating the terms of a restricted license can lead to a license revocation by the Colorado Department of Revenue DMV. Those terms prohibit you from:
- Tampering with your ignition interlock device,
- Driving in a car that does not have an IID,
- Getting a ticket, or
- Driving outside of any of the restrictions set by the license.
4.1. Tampering with the ignition interlock device
If you tamper with your Colorado ignition interlock device, your restricted license can be revoked. You will then have to serve the rest of your license suspension without driving. Tampering with an IID is also a Class 2 misdemeanor.2 A conviction carries up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750 in fines.
Tampering with an IID includes:
- Removing it from the vehicle,
- Rewiring it so it cannot stop the car from running, or
- Getting someone else to provide a breath sample for the IID.
You can also be charged with tampering with an IID if you help someone else avoid using it.
Example: George blows into Michelle’s IID so she can drive home from the bar. Both of them can be charged with tampering with an IID.
Lots of people have tried fooling ignition interlock devices. Because there are so many attempts, IID companies are constantly adding new features. These features can catch common IID tricks, including:
- Having someone else provide the breath sample,
- Blowing compressed air into the mouthpiece, or
- Using a balloon filled with alcohol-free breath.
Ignition interlock devices now log all breath samples. This data can be used as evidence that you tried to tamper with the device. Most IIDs are now equipped with cameras. This video can be used as evidence, too.
You can be convicted for tampering with an IID even after you are no longer required to have it in your car. If you remove it, yourself, it can be considered tampering under CRS 42-2-132.5. You have to get it removed by the IID company.
5. Where can you get an IID installed in your vehicle?
Under Colorado law, you have to get an ignition interlock device installed by an approved provider. The list is provided on the website for the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles. It includes:
Each of these companies has several different locations in Colorado.
6. DUI offenses related to ignition interlock devices
There are numerous DUI offenses that are related to ignition interlock device issues in Colorado. Some of them include:
- Driving under restraint (CRS 42-2-138). Anyone who breaks a term of their restricted license can face a charge if they drive, again.
- Marijuana DUI. Installing an ignition interlock device is not an option if you were convicted for drugged driving.
- Driving while ability impaired. These DUI charges are for having a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08%. There is no minimum license suspension for these convictions. Therefore, IIDs are less common.
- Underage DUI. Colorado has a “zero tolerance” law for drivers under 21. They cannot have any alcohol in their system if they are behind the wheel. An ignition interlock device is not an option if someone underage is convicted for DUI.
- DUIs for commercial drivers. Ignition interlock devices are also not available for commercial drivers who have been convicted of DUI.
Call us for help…
Complying with Colorado’s ignition interlock device laws can be difficult. The DUI defense lawyers at our law office can help. Call us today or contact us online if you are facing a DUI charge or need help with an IID. We are headquartered in Denver but create attorney-client relationships throughout the state.
Learn more about Colorado DUI laws.
In California? See our article on California IIDs.
In Nevada? See our article on Nevada IIDs.