Ignition Interlock Device

What is an ignition interlock device and when is a person required to obtain one?

     Ignition Interlock Devices ("IID") are machines somewhat like a breathalyzer to detect traces of alcohol on a persons breath.  These machines require that an individual produce a breath sample devoid of alcohol prior to starting the vehicle and at random times after a vehicle has started.  The IID will prevent the vehicle from starting or stop the engine from operating if it detects alcohol on a driver's breath. 

In Wisconsin courts are required to order the installation of an IID whenever a person is found guilty of improperly refusing to take a blood or breath test, for any second and subsequent conviction for an OWI offense, OWI 1st offenders with a blood alcohol level of .15 or more, and OWI 1st offenders who were involved in an accident causing injury.  A sentencing court ordering the installation of an IID will require that all vehicles registered to or operated by the defendant be equipped with one of the machines. 

How long will an ignition interlock device requirement be in effect and when does the requirement begin?

     In situations where an IID order is mandatory, courts must impose a minimum IID requirement of one year and it may last as long as the maximum possible revocation sentence for the offense a person is convicted of.  The time period for the IID requirement only begins when a driver's license is issued, thereby preventing the ability of people to simply avoid driving during a license revocation period in order to evade the IID requirement as was possible under prior law.  Thus, the IID order is in effect once an occupational license is granted or standard license is re-issued to the effected person. 

Where can I find a service center to install an ignition interlock device and how much is this going to cost?

     The average cost of installing and operating an IID is roughly $1,000 a year.  There are numerous service centers throughout Wisconsin that will install and maintain IIDs, generally with small variations in pricing.  The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has currently approved three approved manufactureres of IID which can also be contacted to locate the nearest installation and maintenance center:

Consumer Safety Technology, Inc.;   Intoxalock Model 1001A - Fuel Cell  877-777-5020

Draeger Safety Diagnostics, Inc.;  Interlock XT - Fuel Cell   800-597-5054

Lifesafer InterlockLifesafer SC100 – Semi Cell 800-584-1226

Offenders with income at or below 150% of the federal poverty line may petition the court for a reduced fee of 50% off the standard cost of installation and maintenance, or roughly $500 a year.  (Wis. Stat. s. 343.301(2m)(b)).

Why is it important to install an ignition interlock device when ordered to by a court? 

     Beginning July 1, 2010,  it is a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle without an IID when ordered to have one installed.  Failure to abide by a court's order to only operate vehicles with an installed IID may result in a fine of $150 - $600, imprisonment up to six months and a six month extension of the IID requirement.  (Wis. Stat. s. 347.50(1s)).   Additionally, individuals are required to show proof of compliance with a court's IID order when applying for anoccupational license or for "Huber" work release programs at county jails.  Proof of compliance with a court's IID order must be provided within two weeks of sentencing in order to be granted Huber work release. 

Will I be required to have multiple ignition interlock devices installed if I have more than one car registered in my name or operate more than one vehicle?

     Yes, unless the court is petitioned for a modification of the IID order.  A sentencing court may modify an IID order to exempt one or more vehicles from the requirement where installation of IIDs in more than one vehicle may cause an undue financial burden on the offender.  (Wis. Stat. s. 343.301(1m)).  This procedure will not, however, exempt a person subject to an IID order from only driving vehicles installed with an IID (including work vehicles). 

Is there anything else I should know about an ignition interlock device order?

     Yes!  Any person subject to an IID order is subject to a .02 blood alcohol level (roughly the blood alcohol level that could be expected from one 12 oz. beer consumed by a male of average height and size) while driving.  Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02 or more while subject to an IID order will result in a charge of operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration with penalties equal to another, higher level OWI offense.  (Wis. Stat. s. 340.01(46m)(c)).

It is also a criminal offense to remove, tamper with or otherwise circumvent the proper operation of an IID.  Violation of this law may result in vines of $150-$600, up to six months in jail and a six month extension of any existing IID order.  (Wis. Stat.  s. 347.50(1s)). 

 House Law Office - J. Steven House - 608.443.7522 - jshouse@jshouselaw.com - 222 S. Hamilton Street, Suite 12, Madison, WI 53703