One of the most common requirements following a DUI citation is the installation of an ignition interlock device, or IID. An ignition interlock device is a built-in car breathalyzer connected to a vehicle’s ignition that detects a driver’s blood alcohol content before allowing the driver to start their vehicle. The vehicle will not start unless the driver blows into the device and shows a blood alcohol concentration below a pre-set limit. Let’s take a closer look at how these devices work and see if they are actually fail-proof.
How Ignition Interlock Devices Detect Alcohol
Once alcohol is consumed, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. As it’s pumped through different parts of the body, small amounts of alcohol leave the body through exhalation. Ignition interlock devices are designed to measure the amount of alcohol exhaled from the lungs.
Ignition interlock devices measure one’s breath alcohol content, or BAC, using an electronic control unit, or ECU. Each time you blow into the device, it relays your breath alcohol content back to the ECU. If the IID detects even the slightest amount of alcohol in your breath, the sensor will prevent you from starting the car. If the device doesn’t detect any alcohol, then you will be able to start your car as you normally would.
These days, ignition interlock devices utilize ethanol fuel cell sensors to provide more accurate results. These highly sensitive sensors employ an electrochemical process wherein the alcohol on your breath reacts with a catalytic electrode and produces an electric current. The IID measures that current to determine your breath alcohol content. The higher the alcohol content in your system, the higher your BAC result will be.
Acceptable Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) Levels
California drivers are legally required to keep their breath alcohol content under 0.08% when driving a vehicle. However, this restriction is even more stricter for those drivers that are convicted with DUI. DUI violators are required to have an IID installed in their vehicle and must maintain their alcohol levels way below the legal limit. Drivers with IIDs in their vehicle won’t be able to drive if their device detects even the slightest amount of alcohol in their breath.
How Long Does an Ignition Interlock Device Detect Alcohol?
Normally, it takes an hour for each alcoholic drink to be processed and eliminated by the body. However, drivers may process alcohol differently depending on their gender, weight, metabolism, and the amount of food consumed prior to drinking. It is highly advised to overestimate how long it will take your body to process alcohol when using an ignition interlock device in California.
Ignition Interlock Devices are Not Fail-Proof
Ignition interlock devices, like all alcohol breath testers, are subject to error. IIDs may show false positive results if a driver used or consumed a product that contains trace amounts of alcohol. Energy drinks, breath sprays, mouthwash, and even some foods such as alcohol-spiked desserts can cause an IID to disable a vehicle’s ignition system even though the driver is not intoxicated.
IID Alcohol Detection and Retesting
As mentioned earlier, a vehicle will not start for a set period of time once an IID detects alcohol on a driver’s breath. Once this period of time has elapsed, drivers are allowed to re-test their breath. The vehicle will still not start if the driver fails again.
Keep in mind that drivers are also required to take random breath tests even while driving. Normally, they are informed beforehand that a random test will take place, which gives them enough time to safely stop their vehicle. Drivers who perform and fail random tests while driving won’t abruptly stall their vehicle, but instead will be recorded and reported.
Seek Legal Help to Avoid an IID
Apart from making driving such a hassle, ignition interlock devices can also burn a hole in your pocket. Did you know that you’ll be required to pay a fee for each month you have the IID in your possession? Furthermore, you may also be required to pay to have the IID installed and uninstalled in your vehicle.
This is why it’s crucial to seek a Santa Barbara traffic attorney as soon as you are arrested for DUI to avoid a court-ordered IID installation. Depending on your situation, Hallum Law can provide you prompt help to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Protect your driving privileges by contacting Hallum Law today.