For certain DWI offenses in North Carolina, an individual may be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Also referred to as an “IID,” this is a breath testing device that is installed in a vehicle to ensure you aren’t drinking and driving — the IID measures the alcohol on a person’s breath and won’t allow the car to start if it detects any. For those who are facing a DWI charge, it’s important to understand the ignition interlock device laws in North Carolina.
An ignition interlock device is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system. It requires the individual to breathe into the equipment before starting the vehicle — and won’t let the car start if their breath alcohol concentration is not within a specific range. While the costs of the device are incurred by the person who is ordered to install it, the provider may accept a waiver of a portion of the costs in cases where there is financial hardship. Usually, the cost of an IID is between $2.50 and $3.50 a day.
To use the device, a driver will press the button on the front and blow into it. If they pass, they will be able to start their car. However, if they fail, the driver must wait until they are able to pass the test to start the car. The IID will also request random “rolling re-tests” during the course of a trip to ensure the driver remains sober. To indicate a test is required, a tone will sound — in the event alcohol is detected, the IID will set off an alarm and require the driver to pull the vehicle over. The driver must provide an alcohol-free test result within five minutes.
Depending on the sentencing requirements, the results of the sample provided must not exceed .00 or .04. Any sample above that level will disable the ignition. If the driver fails, the results of the IID will be reported to the DMV and a Notice of Suspension will be issued with the effective date on it. A hearing may be requested with the DMV in such cases.
Under the ignition interlock device laws in North Carolina, an IID can be required by the court for a Level One through Five DWI offense. However, they are mandatory in certain situations. A court will typically require an IID under the following circumstances:
First-time offenders must usually keep the IID installed for up to one year. For those with prior convictions — or if aggravating circumstances exist — an IID may be required for a period of three to seven years.
Once it has been installed, any person who violates the ignition interlock devices laws in North Carolina is subject to punishment by the court. Critically, only the court has the authority to determine whether an IID can be removed. By trying to remove the device early, a driver may be charged with the offense of driving while license revoked and lose their driving privileges.
In some cases, an individual who has been convicted of a DWI — and lost their driving privileges — may be eligible for a restricted license and the limited driving privileges that come with one. However, under the ignition interlock device laws in North Carolina, a judge cannot issue limited driving privileges without proof that the IID has been installed if one has been ordered. This can be done by providing a copy of the installation report and corresponding contract.
Unlike a general DWI limited driving privilege, an interlock limited driving privilege generally allows driving at any time.
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI and have questions about the ignition interlock device laws in North Carolina, it’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. The Johnston County DWI defense attorneys at Reece & Reece, Attorneys at Law provide aggressive representation for a variety of criminal and traffic-related offenses, including DWIs. Call (919) 300-1249 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you.