How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?Accidents are more common—and more deadly—when alcohol is involved because it can slow down your reaction time, impair your muscle coordination, cause poor judgment, and more. Each of these factors on their own make it dangerous to operate a vehicle, but all of them combined can make it deadly.

Accidents caused by drunk drivers are always 100% preventable, but that does not make them any less prevalent. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that one person dies in a drunk driving-related crash every 45 minutes in the United States.

Maryland is no stranger to these types of accidents, either. In 2019, there were 6,857 alcohol- or drug-related crashes in the state compared to 6,291 in 2015. With the steady rise of DUI cases, Maryland took a more strategic approach on how to combat the issue and stop repeat offenders in their tracks. One of their solutions? Mandatory ignition interlock devices.

Maryland requires ignition interlock devices for those charged with DUI

Between 2015 to 2019, there were over 99,000 arrests for impaired driving in the state of Maryland. Of those, more than 37% of drivers refused a breathalyzer test and about 80% who agreed to it had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level above the legal driving limit.

Per, an IID is mandatory if you have been convicted of:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI);
  • Driving while impaired (DWI) while transporting a minor under the age of 16;
  • Driving while intoxicated with an initial breathalyzer test refusal; and
  • Homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI.

Note: technically, the IID program is voluntary in some cases; you may not have to get one installed in your vehicle. But if you choose not to enroll in the program, your license will automatically be suspended.

Once drivers complete this program, they will regain their license and driving privileges with no suspensions.

Ignition interlock devices stop the car of an intoxicated driver from starting

After an alcohol-related driving offense, many Bowie and Crofton residents may be required to install an IID in their own personal vehicle. These are also sometimes referred to as a car breathalyzer. It is a small, handheld device that is really no bigger than a TV remote. In order to start their vehicle, the driver will need to blow into the device to prove sobriety. If alcohol is detected, the car simply will not start. The IID essentially will stop the signal from the ignition to the starter.

In order to prevent sober people from blowing into the device for an intoxicated driver, systems include cameras and will even ask drivers for another breath sample randomly as they are operating the vehicle. If the driver does not submit to the test or the system detects alcohol this time, alarms will sound until the car is pulled over and shut down, since forcing the car to turn off suddenly can be dangerous for others on the road.

Every month, you will need to report to an IID service provider to calibrate your breathalyzer system. During this maintenance, they will be able to read the date, time, and BAC level of each time you blew into the device.

How long do I have to have an IID in my car?

The length of the Maryland IID program depends on what your BAC level was at the time of arrest:

  • 08-0.14 BAC – 180 days
  • 15 or higher BAC – 1 year
  • Refusal of breathalyzer – 1 year

Under Transportation Code Ann. § 16-404.1:

The [Maryland Motor Vehicle] Administration shall consider a participant to have successfully completed the Program if the Administration receives from the participant’s approved service provider a certification that in the 3 consecutive months before a participant’s date of release from the Program there was not:

  1. An attempt to start the vehicle with a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more unless a subsequent test performed within 10 minutes registered a breath alcohol concentration lower than 0.04;
  2. A failure to take or pass a random test with a breath alcohol concentration of 0.025 or lower unless a subsequent test performed within 10 minutes registered a breath alcohol concentration lower than 0.025; or
  3. A failure of the participant to appear at the approved service provider when required for maintenance, repair, calibration, monitoring, inspection, or replacement of the device causing the device to cease to function as required under this section.

If an individual successfully completes the Program and the individual’s license is not refused, revoked, suspended, or canceled under another provision of this article, the Administration shall immediately issue a license to the licensee.

IIDs are installed at your own expense – but Carey Law Office can help

As part of the program, you are required to pay out of pocket for all aspects of it, including:

  • Obtaining an interlock restricted driver’s license
  • Installation of the IID
  • Monthly servicing of the IID
  • Obtaining a non-restricted licensed after program completion

The cost of the IID can vary depending on which vendor you select. And since there is no option to buy the system outright, you essentially need to lease it. This can all range anywhere from $50-$200 just for installation, then an additional $60-$100 per month.

This can get pretty expensive, but luckily our firm at Carey Law Office works closely with one of the major IID installation companies. With our representation, we can help you secure a savings of up to $225 for the cost of installation and the first month’s maintenance fee on your IID system.

It is not worth trying to fight a DUI case on your own. The outcome can be very serious and it can lead to months or years of losing your freedom. An experienced DUI attorney will look at the details and can help negotiate your charges. At Carey Law Office, we will work with you to determine the best foot forward in order to protect your rights. If installing an ignition interlock device is what is best, then we will also help lock in a special discount for you in order to lessen the financial burden. If you have been charged with drunk driving in Crofton, Bowie, or Calvert County, be sure to call our DUI and DWI defense lawyers or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.