Understanding the Ignition Interlock Device

Illinois has some of the strictest DUI laws in the United States.

One of these laws says that first-time DUI offenders must pay for a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on their vehicles. If you refuse, you don’t qualify for a Restricted Driving Permit or a Monitoring Device Driving Permit. 

That means your license is simply suspended, and you can’t drive for six months or twelve months.

Are you trying to get a permit to drive after a DUI arrest? Here’s what you need to know about the BAIID.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

The breath alcohol ignition interlock device (or BAIID) is a device attached to your car’s ignition.

You cannot start the car without first blowing into the device. If the BAIID registers at .025 or higher, then the vehicle won’t start. However, you don’t just need to blow to start the engine. You need to continue at other points during the trip to make sure you didn’t try to get around the system by getting someone sober to start the vehicle for you.

Why Does the State Assign Ignition Interlock Devices?

The state uses the device to try to physically stop you from driving after drinking. If you can’t blow a 0.025, then you can’t drive.

It provides a way of monitoring drivers without needing to check-in manually using an officer or state official.

What Happens if You Fail an Ignition Interlock Device?

The answer depends on the device you use.

Usually, if you fail a BAIID once by blowing over 0.025, you get locked out of the vehicle for half an hour. 

However, the Illinois Secretary of State monitors the devices. A single failed test could result in a letter from the state. However, it is uncommon. If you make a habit of failing the test, then you will almost certainly receive a notification.

The official violations are:

  • Reading of .05 or higher
  • Failure to take the rolling test
  • Failing the rolling retest
  • Failing to submit reports
  • Over five unsuccessful starts within 24 hours
  • Over ten unsuccessful starts in 30 days
  • Attempting to remove or tamper with the BAIID

If you get a letter, you must explain why you failed the test within 21 days.

Anyone who doesn’t respond, or who can’t provide a reasonable explanation, can see an extension to their suspension period for three months. If the device malfunctioned, you can say so, the state is aware that errors happen. If the error was the result of someone else trying to drive your car, then you should also say so.

Generally, you benefit from the advice of a DUI attorney when responding to the letter.

Continuing your pattern of driving after drinking can result in the state revoking your permit. 

What If I Failed and I Wasn’t Drinking?

False positives do happen.

You may experience one as a result of a device malfunction. 

However, a false positive can also happen if you use mouthwash right before getting in the car, or if you eat food made with alcohol (like a boozy cake).

What If I Drive a Car Without a BAIID?

The vehicle(s) you could drive during your suspension should be fitted with the BAIID device. If you are pulled over and charged with operating a vehicle without a BAIID, then you could face a Class 4 felony.

You may then spend up to 30 days in jail, or even fines of up to $25,000. The judge can also award a maximum of three -years in prison.

How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

In Illinois, you must pay to install the interlock device on your vehicle. Why? Because driving is a privilege, and if you get caught driving drunk, then you need to prove you can be responsible. If you can’t or won’t do that, then you are no longer allowed to drive.

There are several things you’ll pay for when you install the device.

First, you pay for the installation, and eventual removal, of the device. You also pay a monthly rental fee to keep it as long as you need it. In some cases, you need to pay a calibration fee. Finally, you pay a fee to the Illinois Secretary of State.

You don’t buy the devices from the state. Instead, you get them from third-party vendors, which means the fees vary. Some of the factors that contribute to the cost include:

  • Length of time you keep the device
  • Year, make, and model of your vehicle
  • Other court-mandated features (real-time reporting, etc.)

You can spend around $2,000 total on an interlock device for your first DUI. However, vendors like to break the fee down into per-day costs to make their product look less expensive. Unfortunately, you don’t pay per-day, so you still need to pay several of the charges upfront. In some cases, you may get financial assistance to pay for the device.

Take Your Ignition Interlock Device Seriously

If you accept the responsibility of driving with an ignition interlock device, take it seriously. Failing the tests, trying to get around them, or driving without permission can all make the judgment against you worse.

At the same time, accidents and false positives happen. You should embrace the opportunity to explain yourself to the Secretary of State promptly.

Every move you make will determine how quickly you can get a revoked license reinstated in Illinois.

Were you charged with a DUI in Illinois? Receiving your license back requires help. Click here for a free consultation with our office to learn when and how you can drive again.

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