What Is an Interlock Ignition Device?

Interlock Ignition Device

An interlock ignition device is a type of alcohol monitoring system that is designed to prevent a driver from operating a car after consuming alcohol. The device is connected to the ignition system of the vehicle when it is installed. A driver must blow into a mouthpiece connected to the device before attempting to start the vehicle. The device works like a breathalyzer to detect the presence of alcohol in the driver’s system. If the interlock ignition device detects alcohol, the car cannot be started.

While a person may voluntarily install this device in their vehicle as a self-deterrent for drunk driving, most devices are installed pursuant to a court order. When a court orders a defendant to install an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle, the defendant must pay for the cost of installation and monitoring in addition to complying with all terms and conditions of the court order and the interlock ignition device program.

Interlock Ignition Device Program in Maryland

A person convicted of DUI in Maryland may be ordered to install an interlock ignition device in his or her vehicle. A driver may also opt to enter the program to retain driving privileges. The driver pays all costs and fees for the program, including installation, maintenance, and monitoring.

As part of the requirement to remain in the program, a driver must start the vehicle at least 50 times during a 30-day period. If the driver has a valid reason for not starting the vehicle the minimum number of times, he must notify the court or Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) immediately and state the reason why he did not comply with this requirement.  A month is added for each violation of this requirement, and after four violations, the driver is removed from the program. Being removed from the program triggers the original sentence imposed by the MVA or the court.

Most drivers who are ordered by the Motor Vehicle Administration to install the device as first time DUI offenders must participate in the program for a minimum of 12 months. However, if the court imposes the penalty, a driver could have the device installed in his or her vehicle for up to three years. If the circuit court hears the DUI case, the required time the device must remain in the vehicle could increase to five years.

Dealing with an ignition interlock device can be frustrating and costly. False positives can register on the device for a variety of reasons. These false positives are then reported to the MVA or the court resulting in additional time being added to the term or additional penalties being imposed for attempting to drive while intoxicated. Before voluntarily opting into the program, our Maryland DUI defense attorneys urge you to meet with one of our lawyers to discuss your case. You could have a valid defense to the DUI charge that may result in a reduced charge or a dismissal.

What Happens if a Driver Fails an Ignition Lock Test?

Failing an ignition interlock test can have significant negative consequences for a person. Each month you must take your vehicle to a service center for the device to be calibrated. During the service appointment, the data will be downloaded so that it can be provided to the Motor Vehicle Administration and/or the court.

If a court ordered the person to install the device, the court could view the failed test as a violation of probation. On the other hand, the court could take the position that the failed test is a violation of a restriction placed on the person’s license and charge him with an additional criminal offense. If the court assesses additional criminal charges, the person could face penalties for that charge in addition to the penalties that were imposed for the DUI.

An administrative judge with the Motor Vehicle Administration may also order ignition interlock devices to be installed in vehicles. If the Motor Vehicle Administration ordered the driver to install the device and oversees monitoring the test results, the MVA might simply add additional time to the person’s required participation in the program for a failed test. Adding time to the required participation increases the cost for the driver.

Defending Drivers Against DUI Charges in Maryland

Attorney Jason Plotkin is serious about defending clients charged with DUI in Maryland. He attended the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Practitioner Course offered by the Maryland Association for Justice to learn more about the field sobriety tests used by law enforcement officers in Maryland. Attorney Plotkin is now qualified in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) training after completing the program. He uses the information he learned during the course to aggressively defend his clients against drunk driving charges.

Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-661-9440 to discuss your DUI arrest with a Parkville criminal defense attorney.  We represent clients in Baltimore County and throughout Maryland.


The information provided in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information contained in this blog is also subject to change and should not be relied upon. Contact the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team for a FREE consultation.

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