A Brief Introduction to Alabama Ignition Interlock Devices

Every state has its own laws, procedures, and consequences regarding the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). While some states have stricter laws than others, the consequences of a DUI conviction are almost universally severe and far-reaching.

In Alabama, as with most states, a DUI conviction carries both criminal and administrative penalties. Criminal penalties for a first-time DUI offender include potential incarceration up to one year (with no minimum), fines up to $2000, and a criminal record. Administrative penalties are carried out by the Alabama Department of Public Safety and include things like an automatic license suspension for a DUI arrest or refusal to take a chemical test like a breathalyzer (even without a conviction).

One type of administrative penalty that was only recently added in 2012 as a possible ramification of a DUI conviction in Alabama is having an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on the offender’s car. The way this technology works is that a breathalyzer-like device is installed in the vehicle and the driver is required to blow into the device every time he or she wishes to start the car.  The device analyzes the blood-alcohol concentration of the driver, and if the BAC registers above the predetermined limit that is programed into the device, the vehicle will not start.

A first-time DUI offense without any aggravating factors will normally not result in having an IID installed on your car, but there are a number of scenarios in which an individual convicted of a DUI in Alabama could be forced to utilize this device. They include:

1- Any repeat DUI offense

2- A first-time offense where the offender had a BAC of .15 or more

3- A first-time offense where the offender had a child in the car aged 14 or younger

4- A first-time offense that resulted in an injury-type accident

5- Any DUI arrest in which the offender refused to take a breathalyzer test

One of the biggest drawbacks to these devices is that the individual who is being penalized with the IID is required to pay all associated costs to purchase or lease the device, have it installed or removed, have it maintained or repaired, etc. However, first time offenders who registered a BAC lower than .15 may voluntarily elect to have an IID installed in their vehicle in order to avoid the automatic 90 day license suspension requirement.

Generally, IID’s must be installed on the offender’s vehicle for at least six months. Any DUI events that occur during that time will add an additional six months to this requirement, and certain situations involving repeat offenders AND aggravated circumstances like having a child in the car may result in a requirement to keep an IID on the offender’s vehicle for up to 10 years.

Whether or not your vehicle will be outfitted with an IID following your DUI arrest and/or conviction will depend on the circumstances of your case. In some situations, as mentioned above, having an IID installed may be a better option than your alternatives. However, in all cases, it is important that you have a skilled DUI attorney like John Totten review the facts of your case and help guide you towards the best possible course of action. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Northern Alabama, move quickly and call the law office of John M. Totten, P.C. right away.

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.