Law Office of Kenneth C. Hyland - criminal defense

Law Office of Kenneth C. Hyland
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Pittsford, NY 14534
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The Use of Ignition Interlock Devices in Drunk-Driving Cases

It may seem that the most frightening part of a drunk-driving charge is the possible jail time and monetary fine, but a conviction would affect many areas of your life. You would probably lose your license at least temporarily, making it harder to work and provide for yourself and your family. Sometimes convicted drunk drivers must forfeit their motor vehicles. You would also find it more difficult and more expensive to maintain auto insurance. Contact an experienced drunk-driving defense lawyer today to help avoid these consequences.

Upstate New York DWI Lawyer

While DWI charges are common these days, you may be unsure of what to do when it actually is happening to you. DWI charges can lead to several serious consequences including higher insurance premiums, loss of your driver's license, or even jail or prison time. For these reasons, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. My name is Kenneth C. Hyland and I have over 30 years of experience as a prosecutor in the Rochester, New York area and currently help my clients defend against DWI charges. For more information, please contact my law office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation.

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The Use of Ignition Interlock Devices in Drunk Driving Cases

Most states have regulations that allow or mandate that judges order the installation of interlock devices as a penalty during sentencing in drunk driving cases. An ignition interlock is a device installed in a car that measures the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver, who must blow into the device before starting the car. If the driver's BAC is above a certain level, the car will not start. Because the laws regarding the use of ignition interlock devices in drunk driving cases vary from state to state, it is important to speak to an experienced local DUI/DWI defense attorney at Law Office of Kenneth C. Hyland. in Pittsford, New York.

What is an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device is a small device (about the size of a cell phone) similar to a Breathalyzer® that is installed in a car and measures the driver's BAC level. If a person blows into the device and it registers a BAC level that is above a certain preset amount, the car will not start. The driver must also periodically give breath samples during the drive; this prevents an intoxicated person from having a sober friend blow into the device in order to start the car. Ignition interlock devices use fuel-cell sensor technology to detect alcohol. Devices record data like BAC test results, engine stops and starts and any attempts to tamper with the machine.

Overview of ignition interlock laws

Most states have laws regarding the use of ignition lock devices as a penalty in DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated) or other drunk driving cases. Of the states that have such laws, the majority of them give judges discretion to order the installation of interlock devices as a penalty for even the first conviction. This means that the judge is not always required to order that one be installed if a person is convicted of drunk driving, but may do so. Generally, the state will have laws that set forth how long the device must be used if the judge does order one be installed.

A few states have made installation of an ignition interlock device mandatory after any drunk driving conviction. Others only require them upon conviction for certain types of drunk driving-related offenses or under certain circumstances, such as:

  • Repeat convictions (second or third offenses)
  • High BAC levels
  • BAC of over 0.15
  • DUI with a minor (under 16 years old) in the car
  • After reinstatement of a driver's license

Potential problems with ignition interlock devices

The use of ignition interlock devices should curtail drunk driving and prevent individuals from driving when they are intoxicated. In addition, using them can help people who have been convicted of drunk driving show the court and prosecutors that they have stayed sober. However, there may be some potential problems with the use of such devices:

  • False positives: The devices may detect alcohol if a driver has recently used mouthwash that contains alcohol or if a person has eaten certain baked goods containing sugar and yeast, which have been known to cause low alcohol levels. Certain medical conditions can also trigger false positives.
  • Malfunctions: The devices use complex fuel-cell technology, and there is a possibility that the device could malfunction, resulting in incorrect readings or an inability to start the vehicle even if no alcohol is detected.
  • Shared vehicles: If the person who is required to use the ignition interlock device shares a car with a spouse or another person, that other person will need to use it as well.

In addition, the offender is typically required to pay for the device. The cost usually includes an installation fee and a monthly rental fee. The offender may have to use the device for three months, six months or longer depending on the state, the applicable law and the terms of the offender's sentence. This can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Speak to a drunk driving defense lawyer

More states now have laws covering the use of ignition interlock devices in drunk driving cases. However, the laws vary greatly in terms of the circumstances in which these devices are used, how long they must be used and the people who are required to use them. If you have questions about the use of ignition interlock devices, contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney at Law Office of Kenneth C. Hyland. in Pittsford, New York.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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