Under Nevada Senate Bill 259, people convicted of drunk driving in Nevada are required to get "ignition interlock devices" installed in their cars as part of their Nevada DUI penalties. An ignition interlock device (IID)..also called a breath interlock device (BID)...prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol on the driver's breath.
Using IIDs is a mandatory sentencing term in Nevada when a defendant gets convicted of either:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher,
- The Nevada crime of felony DUI,
- The Nevada crime of drunk driving causing death or serious bodily injury, or
- The Nevada crime of vehicular homicide
Furthermore, defendants have to pay for the IIDs themselves. And if they do not use the IID or tamper with it, they face up to 6 months in Nevada jail.
On this page, our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about ignition interlock devices in Nevada DUI cases. Scroll down to learn how IIDs work, when they are required, and the penalties for not using them.
1) What is an ignition interlock device (IID) in Nevada?
Also called a "breath interlock device" (BID), an ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer-like machine that disables cars from starting if it detects that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol.1 People charged with DUI in Nevada may have to get IIDs temporarily installed in their cars at their own expense as part of their sentence.
2) How do IIDs work in Nevada?
IIDs are small, no bigger than a mobile phone. They are installed on a vehicle's steering column near the ignition. IIDs have a mouthpiece where the would-be driver is required to blow.
If the breath sample is alcohol-free, the car can start. But if the IID detects that the person's blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02 or more, the IID will disable the car from starting.2 Note that IIDs keep a record of failed breath tests, and the court will eventually find out about them.
Rolling breath tests
Ignition interlock devices test the driver's breath not just at the beginning of a car ride but also during the drive. Once the car is running, the IID will conduct periodic "rolling tests" on the driver to ensure he/she is not drinking while driving. This typically occurs within the first 15 minutes of starting the car, and then again at 45-minute intervals.
When the IID asks for a rolling sample, the driver usually has six minutes to breathe into the device. If the driver does not pass the breath test or neglects to provide a sample in time, the car will not stop...instead, the IID will register a "fail" in its log. Recall that all "fails" are eventually reported to the court.
3) Which Nevada DUI defendants have to install an IID in their cars?
People convicted of any of the following drunk driving offenses are required under Nevada law to have IIDs temporarily installed in their vehicles:
- Driving under the influence,
- The Nevada crime of felony DUI,
- The Nevada crime of drunk driving causing death or serious bodily injury, or
- The Nevada crime of vehicular homicide
Note that Nevada judges have the discretion to impose IID requirements on any DUI defendant, even if their BAC was less than .08.3 But this usually only happens if the defendant has a past DUI conviction or a drinking problem.
Also note there is an exception to Nevada's IID requirements, which is explained in the next question.
4) Can a Nevada DUI defendant get out of having to install an IID?
Only defendants convicted of a first-time misdemeanor DUI (with no other DUIs in the last seven years) can potentially get out of having to use an IID. Their attorney would need to show either that
- the defendant cannot provide a deep lung sample, or
- The person resides more than 100 miles from a manufacturer of a device or its agent; or
- Getting an IID would pose an economic hardship, or
- the car is necessary to:
- travel to and from work; or
- obtain medicine, food, necessities or health care for the defendant or the defendant's immediate family
Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example of someone who may qualify for this "undue hardship" exception to Nevada's IID laws:
Tessa is on welfare and SNAP benefits in Las Vegas, and she works as a waitress across town at Green Valley Ranch. One night while driving home she gets arrested for her first DUI with a BAC of .09. Since her BAC was .08 or higher, Nevada law mandates that she get an IID. But Tessa may be eligible for the "undue hardship exception" because:
- This was her first DUI; and
- She has no money; and
- She needs her car to drive to and from work.
Defendants facing a second-time misdemeanor DUI (within seven years) or felony DUI charges are not eligible for this "undue hardship" exception to Nevada's breath interlock device laws.4
5) How long do Nevada DUI defendants need to have an IID?
It depends on the kind of DUI the defendant was convicted of in Nevada.
Felony DUI or driving with a BAC of .18 or higher
In cases where defendants are convicted of a felony DUI or driving with a BAC of at least .18, they must have an IID in their car(s) for:
- 12 to 36 months
The judge decides the specific number of months based on the unique facts of the case. Note that once the IID is installed, defendants are required to have the IID checked by a certified service provider at least every 90 days.
Misdemeanor DUI with a BAC of less than .18
In misdemeanor DUI cases with a BAC of less than .18, the IID requirement is for:
- 185 days
Note that these defendants are required to have their IIDs checked by a certified service provider at least once during this 6 month period.5
6) Can Nevada DUI defendants legally drive once they get IIDs installed in their cars?
Once a DUI defendant complies with court orders to install an IID in his/her car, the defendant has to provide proof of installation to the Nevada DMV (or the DMV in the defendant's home state) in order to obtain a Nevada restricted license or to reinstate his/her driving privileges.6
Note that anyone convicted of a DUI in Nevada will get his/her driver's license suspended. And even if the defendant does not get convicted of a DUI in criminal court, the driver still faces possible license suspension through the DMV's administrative court.7 The length of the driver's license suspension depends on the driver's previous DUI record:
- A first-time misdemeanor DUI carries a 185-day driver's license suspension
- A second-time misdemeanor DUI carries a 1-year driver's license suspension
- A third-time misdemeanor DUI carries a 3-year driver's license suspension
Obviously, defendants do not need to get IIDs installed in their cars until the driver's license suspension period has ended, or else until the defendant is eligible to apply for a restricted license. Learn more about Nevada driver's license suspension laws and Nevada DMV hearings.
7) Do Nevada DUI defendants have to get their IIDs regularly checked?
Yes. As stated in the previous answer, Nevada courts require that DUI defendants get their ignition interlock devices regularly checked by a certified service provider for functionality and signs of tampering.
Defendants convicted of a felony DUI or driving with a BAC of .18 or above are required to get their IIDs checked out at least every 90 days. All other DUI defendants just have to get the IID checked once.8
8) In which cars do DUI defendants have to install IIDs?
DUI defendants who have been ordered to use IIDs are required to install them in the following vehicles:
- every car and motorcycle they drive, whether or not they own them
So a single DUI defendant may potentially have to get breath interlock devices for more than one vehicle.9
9) Can DUI defendants drive their employers' company cars without an IID?
Yes only if the following 3 conditions are met:
- There is written proof that the employer was notified of the defendant's IID restriction, and
- That written proof is kept in the company car at all times, and
- The company car is not a commercial vehicle (which is a vehicle used primarily to transport property in furtherance of a commercial venture)10
Written proof can be a court order with the employer's signature, or a letter written by the employer stating his/her awareness of the defendant's IID restriction. Defendants should show these documents to their defense attorneys to make sure it qualifies as sufficient written proof.
10) Will the court find out if an IID detects a BAC of .02 or higher?
Yes. IIDs keep a log of all failed breath tests. At the defendant's next appointment with the IID certified service provider, the technician will download the information and give it to the courts. The judge will then extend the amount of time the defendant needs to use the IID in the car. If part of the defendant's sentence was to stay away from alcohol, a failed IID breath test could cause the judge to impose jail or other penalties.
11) What are the penalties for not installing an IID in Nevada?
DUI defendants who defy court orders to get an ignition interlock device face the following punishment:
- 30 days to 6 months in jail, or
- 60 days to 6 months of home confinement and $500 to $1,000 in fines
In addition, the person will face the following driver's license suspension:
- 3 years for a first-time offense of not getting an IID
- 5 years for a second-time offense of not getting an IID
Note that the judge may not grant probation or a suspended sentence to a defendant convicted of not getting an IID. Also note that the state may not reduce or dismiss a charge of failing to get an IID unless the charge is not supported by probable cause or could not be proved at trial.11
12) What are the penalties for tampering with an IID in Nevada?
DUI defendants found to have tampered with a breath interlock device may be sentenced to:
- 30 days to 6 months in jail, or
- 60 days to 6 months in home confinement and $500 to $1,000 in fines
In addition, the person's driver's license will be suspended for the following time period:
- 3 years for a first-time offense of tampering with an IID
- 5 years for a second-time offense of tampering with an IID
Note that the court has no power to grant probation or a suspended sentence in cases of IID tampering. Also note that the prosecutor is not allowed to reduce or dismiss a charge of tampering with an IID unless the there is inadequate probable cause to support the charge or there is insufficient evidence to prove the charge if the case went to trial.12
13) Do IIDs ever give false readings of a high BAC in Nevada?
It depends on the breath sample. Since most IIDs use sophisticated fuel cell technology, they are not affected by such non-alcoholic contaminates as:
- cigarette smoke
- gasoline, or
However, IIDs cannot distinguish between alcohol that comes from beverages and alcohol that comes from medicine or food such as:
- mouthwash that contains alcohol,
- liquor candies, or
- pastries, which may contain traces of alcohol from the combination of active yeast and sugar
Therefore drivers with IIDs are urged not to use or ingest anything that contains traces of alcohol prior to giving a breath sample. Alternatively, they may consider rinsing their mouths with water prior to using the IID.
Note that most IIDs give users the option to retest...therefore any trace levels of alcohol present in the driver's breath during the first test may disappear by the time the driver submits to the retest.
14) Do IIDs detect whether a person is under the influence of drugs?
No, just alcohol.
15) Where do DUI defendants go to get IIDs in Nevada?
The defendant needs to go to a certified service provider that offers IIDs which have been certified by the Nevada Committee on Testing for Intoxication.13 Some certified IID service providers in Nevada are:
- Ignition Interlock of Nevada (Las Vegas)
- Audio Express (Las Vegas)
- 12 Volt Solutions (Las Vegas)
- Nevada Car Audio (Reno)
The court may provide a list of where DUI defendants can go to get the IID. Else the DUI defendant can search online or ask his/her defense attorney for suggestions.
16) Can Nevada DUI defendants who live out-of-state get IIDs in their home state?
Usually yes, as long as they abide by Nevada's rules for IID standards and maintenance. The defense counsel for out-of-state defendants will consult with prosecutors about what the defendants need to do to comply with the judge's sentencing terms in their home state.
17) Which IIDs have been approved by the Nevada courts?
The following ignition interlock device models have been certified by the Nevada Committee on Testing for Intoxication and are therefore acceptable IIDs for DUI sentencing purposes:
- Determinator (Alcohol Detection Systems, Inc)
- Intoxalock (Consumer Safety Technology)
- Draeger Interlock or Draeger XT (Draeger)
- Guardian Model 3060 or Guardian AMS 2000 (Guardian)
- National Interlock Model WR2 (National Interlock Systems, Inc.)
- SSI 20/20 (Smart Start, Inc.)
- FR9000 (B.E.S.T. Labs Inc.)
- Global Interlock AlcoMinder (Global Interlock Service)
18) Can Nevada DUI defendants install IIDs themselves?
No, they have to be professionally installed. Only employees at certified service providers may install, check, repair, and remove breath interlock devices.14
19) How much does an IID cost in Nevada?
An average of $75 to install and another $75 per month to maintain for each IID. Note that Nevada DUI defendants are responsible for all costs associated with having an IID, including:
- maintenance checks and calibration,
- repairs, and
Note that many Nevada IID companies provide coupons for $20-$25 on their websites.
20) Do DUI defendants still have to get IIDs if they do not own cars and do not drive anymore?
No. But a defendant's defense attorneys should convey that information to the prosecutors prior to sentencing so the judge can craft the DUI sentence accordingly.
21) Can an attorney get a defendant out of having to install an IID in Nevada?
It depends. As explained in earlier answers, Nevada law demands that some DUI defendants get an ignition interlock device as a condition to drive again. But perhaps a defense attorney can show that the defendant fits into the "undue hardship" exception to Nevada's IID rules (see question 4). Or perhaps the defense attorney can get the charge lowered to a lesser offense such as the Nevada crime of reckless driving, which does not carry an IID requirement as part of its sentence.
Arrested for DUI? Call us...
If you were arrested for driving under the influence in Nevada, call our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation. We may be able to achieve a favorable resolution without you having to install a breath interlock device in your car.
For information on California ignition interlock device laws, see our article on California ignition interlock device laws.
1NRS 484C.450 “Device” defined.
As used in NRS 484C.450 to 484C.480, inclusive, unless the context otherwise requires, “device” means a mechanism that:
1. Tests a person's breath to determine the concentration of alcohol in his or her breath; and
2. If the results of the test indicate that the person has a concentration of alcohol of 0.02 or more in his or her breath, prevents the motor vehicle in which it is installed from starting.
3NRS 484C.460 When court is authorized or required to order installation of device; exceptions; installation and inspection.
1. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 2 and 5, a court:
(a) May order a person convicted of a violation of NRS 484C.110 that is punishable pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection 1 of NRS 484C.400, if the person is found to have had a concentration of alcohol of less than 0.18 in his or her blood or breath, for a period of not less than 3 months nor more than 6 months, to install at his or her own expense a device in any motor vehicle which the person owns or operates as a condition to obtaining a restricted license pursuant to NRS 483.490 or as a condition of reinstatement of the driving privilege of the person.
(b) Shall order a person convicted of:
(1) A violation of NRS 484C.110 that is punishable pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection 1 of NRS 484C.400, if the person is found to have had a concentration of alcohol of 0.18 or more in his or her blood or breath;
(2) A violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 that is punishable as a felony pursuant to NRS 484C.400 or 484C.410; or
(3) A violation of NRS 484C.130 or 484C.430,
--> for a period of not less than 12 months nor more than 36 months, to install at his or her own expense a device in any motor vehicle which the person owns or operates as a condition to obtaining a restricted license pursuant to NRS 483.490 or as a condition of reinstatement of the driving privilege of the person.
2. A court may provide for an exception to the provisions of subparagraph (1) of paragraph (b) of subsection 1 for a person who is convicted of a violation of NRS 484C.110 that is punishable pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection 1 of NRS 484C.400, to avoid undue hardship to the person if the court determines that:
(a) Requiring the person to install a device in a motor vehicle which the person owns or operates would cause the person to experience an economic hardship; and
(b) The person requires the use of the motor vehicle to:
(1) Travel to and from work or in the course and scope of his or her employment;
(2) Obtain medicine, food or other necessities or to obtain health care services for the person or another member of the person's immediate family; or
(3) Transport the person or another member of the person's immediate family to or from school.
3. If the court orders a person to install a device pursuant to subsection 1:
(a) The court shall immediately prepare and transmit a copy of its order to the Director. The order must include a statement that a device is required and the specific period for which it is required. The Director shall cause this information to be incorporated into the records of the Department and noted as a restriction on the person's driver's license.
(b) The person who is required to install the device shall provide proof of compliance to the Department before the person may receive a restricted license or before the driving privilege of the person may be reinstated, as applicable. Each model of a device installed pursuant to this section must have been certified by the Committee on Testing for Intoxication.
4. A person whose driving privilege is restricted pursuant to this section shall:
(a) If the person was ordered to install a device pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection 1, have the device inspected by the manufacturer of the device or its agent at least one time during the period in which the person is required to use the device; or
(b) If the person was ordered to install a device pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 1, have the device inspected by the manufacturer of the device or its agent at least one time each 90 days,
--> to determine whether the device is operating properly. An inspection required pursuant to this subsection must be conducted in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to NRS 484C.480. The manufacturer or its agent shall submit a report to the Director indicating whether the device is operating properly and whether it has been tampered with. If the device has been tampered with, the Director shall notify the court that ordered the installation of the device.
5. If a person is required to operate a motor vehicle in the course and scope of his or her employment and the motor vehicle is owned by the person's employer, the person may operate that vehicle without the installation of a device, if:
(a) The employee notifies his or her employer that the employee's driving privilege has been so restricted; and
(b) The employee has proof of that notification in his or her possession or the notice, or a facsimile copy thereof, is with the motor vehicle.
--> This exemption does not apply to a motor vehicle owned by a business which is all or partly owned or controlled by the person otherwise subject to this section.
6. The running of the period during which a person is required to have a device installed pursuant to this section commences when the Department issues a restricted license to the person or reinstates the driving privilege of the person and is tolled whenever and for as long as the person is, with regard to a violation of NRS 484C.110, 484C.120, 484C.130 or 484C.430, imprisoned, serving a term of residential confinement, confined in a treatment facility, on parole or on probation.
7NRS 483.460 Mandatory revocation of license, permit or privilege to drive; period of revocation; tolling of period of revocation during imprisonment; eligibility for restricted license; action to carry out court's order.
1. Except as otherwise provided by specific statute, the Department shall revoke the license, permit or privilege of any driver upon receiving a record of his or her conviction of any of the following offenses, when that conviction has become final, and the driver is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive for the period indicated:
(a) For a period of 3 years if the offense is:
(1) A violation of subsection 6 of NRS 484B.653.
(2) A third or subsequent violation within 7 years of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120.
(3) A violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 resulting in a felony conviction pursuant to NRS 484C.400 or 484C.410.
(4) A violation of NRS 484C.430 or a homicide resulting from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance or resulting from any other conduct prohibited by NRS 484C.110, 484C.130 or 484C.430.
--> The period during which such a driver is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive must be set aside during any period of imprisonment and the period of revocation must resume when the Department is notified pursuant to NRS 209.517 or 213.12185 that the person has completed the period of imprisonment or that the person has been placed on residential confinement or parole.
(b) For a period of 1 year if the offense is:
(1) Any other manslaughter, including vehicular manslaughter as described in NRS 484B.657, resulting from the driving of a motor vehicle or felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used, including the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.
(2) Failure to stop and render aid as required pursuant to the laws of this State in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or bodily injury of another.
(3) Perjury or the making of a false affidavit or statement under oath to the Department pursuant to NRS 483.010 to 483.630, inclusive, or pursuant to any other law relating to the ownership or driving of motor vehicles.
(4) Conviction, or forfeiture of bail not vacated, upon three charges of reckless driving committed within a period of 12 months.
(5) A second violation within 7 years of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 and the driver is not eligible for a restricted license during any of that period.
(6) A violation of NRS 484B.550.
(c) For a period of 90 days, if the offense is a first violation within 7 years of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120.
2. The Department shall revoke the license, permit or privilege of a driver convicted of violating NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120 who fails to complete the educational course on the use of alcohol and controlled substances within the time ordered by the court and shall add a period of 90 days during which the driver is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive.
3. When the Department is notified by a court that a person who has been convicted of a first violation within 7 years of NRS 484C.110 has been permitted to enter a program of treatment pursuant to NRS 484C.320, the Department shall reduce by one-half the period during which the person is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive, but shall restore that reduction in time if notified that the person was not accepted for or failed to complete the treatment.
4. The Department shall revoke the license, permit or privilege to drive of a person who is required to install a device pursuant to NRS 484C.460 but who operates a motor vehicle without such a device:
(a) For 3 years, if it is his or her first such offense during the period of required use of the device.
(b) For 5 years, if it is his or her second such offense during the period of required use of the device.
5. A driver whose license, permit or privilege is revoked pursuant to subsection 4 is not eligible for a restricted license during the period set forth in paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection, whichever applies.
6. In addition to any other requirements set forth by specific statute, if the Department is notified that a court has ordered the revocation, suspension or delay in the issuance of a license pursuant to title 5 of NRS, NRS 176.064, 206.330 or 392.148, chapters 484A to 484E, inclusive, of NRS or any other provision of law, the Department shall take such actions as are necessary to carry out the court's order.
7. As used in this section, “device” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 484C.450.
11NRS 484C.470 Penalties for tampering with or driving without device; probation and suspension of sentence prohibited; plea bargaining restricted.
1. A person required to install a device pursuant to NRS 484C.460 shall not operate a motor vehicle without a device or tamper with the device.
2. A person who violates any provision of subsection 1:
(a) Must have his or her driving privilege revoked in the manner set forth in subsection 4 of NRS 483.460; and
(b) Shall be:
(1) Punished by imprisonment in jail for not less than 30 days nor more than 6 months; or
(2) Sentenced to a term of not less than 60 days in residential confinement nor more than 6 months, and by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000.
--> No person who is punished pursuant to this section may be granted probation, and no sentence imposed for such a violation may be suspended. No prosecutor may dismiss a charge of such a violation in exchange for a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill or nolo contendere to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless, in the judgment of the attorney, the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at trial.