Ignition Interlock Device Law Effective Date: January 1, 2019

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Introduction:

Effective January 1, 2019, the Ignition Interlock Law will become effective California state-wide due to Senate Bill 1046 being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The new law will remain in effect until January 1, 2026.

In 2010, the pilot Ignition Interlock Device program became effective in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare Counties. This program required individuals whose driving privileges were suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles because of a conviction in criminal court for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving with .08% or more of alcohol in his/her system (as a misdemeanor or a felony) to install an Ignition Interlock Device (hereafter “IID”) for a minimum of 6 months after being sentenced.  The pilot program’s findings showed that the installation of IIDs reduced the number of DUI incidents and those who re-offend (continue to drive under the influence of alcohol.)

 

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An IID is a breath machine which is connected to the starting-component of a vehicle.  For the vehicle to start, the driver must blow into the device. The device is installed on the vehicle’s steering column. The sample of air blown into the device is analyzed to ensure there is no alcohol in the breath sample.  If there is alcohol in the breath sample, the car will not start. Once the car is on, the IID will require the driver to provide breath samples during the time the vehicle is turned on and moving by alerting the driver that he/she needs to blow into the machine and provide a breath sample.  The driver blows into the device while driving and does not need to pull over, stop, or turn off the car to provide a sample.

Breath samples are recorded/saved by the device, which means the company which is responsible for maintaining and calibrating it will store all results of breath samples provided. A violation of the proper use of the device (i.e.: detection of alcohol in a breath sample, tampering, disabling the device) may result in the Department of Motor Vehicles reinstating a person’s mandatory suspension to legally drive California.

 

How much does the IID cost?

The monthly cost of having an IID in one’s vehicle depends on the make and model of one’s vehicle and includes the installation, maintenance/calibration every 2 months, and removal of the IID. It is approximately $75.00 per month to have an IID in one’s vehicle.

 

How Long Does a Person Need to have an IID?

The length of time a person needs to have an IID installed in his/her vehicle depends on the charge for which the person is convicted:

  • First DUI conviction within 10 years:
    1. Without injuries:
      1. 6-month IID where one can drive anywhere he/she chooses, or
      2. 1-year restricted license to only drive to and from work and a treatment program
    2. With injuries:
      1. 6-month IID
  • Second misdemeanor DUI conviction within 10 years:
    1. IID required for one year
  • Third misdemeanor DUI conviction within 10 years:
    1. IID required for two years
  • Fourth or subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years:
    1. IID required for three years

 

How does this affect drivers in pilot counties?

In Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare Counties, the new law will not result in any significant effect to drivers who are convicted of a DUI starting in 2019. The one difference that this new law has created for all counties (including the pilot counties) is that a person, as of January 1, 2019, can have an IID installed in his/her vehicle after arrest to avoid any disruption in his/her ability to legally drive. In addition, a person will receive credit for the total amount of time he/she has the IID in his/her vehicle, even if the IID is installed in the vehicle prior to it being mandated by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

How does this affect a person who has both a criminal court case and an Administrative Per Se hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles pending?

Senate Bill 1046 signed into law addresses the mandatory actions suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to a court conviction for a DUI. The law does not mention administrative per se hearing actions taken by the Department of Motor Vehicles when a person is arrested for a DUI.

However, we encourage anyone who is arrested for a DUI as of January 1, 2019 to take the following steps:

  1. Upon Arrest: steps to take by licensee
    1. You will receive a temporary license from police, it is on a pink sheet of paper. This license is only valid for 30 days.
    2. IF A PERSON WANTS NO HARD SUSPENSION: Within 30 days the licensee MUST:
  • Have your insurance company electronically file SR-22 w DMV (proof of insurance DMV form),
  • Register for an approved DMV alcohol class with proof of enrollment electronically sent to DMV.
  • Contact the Mandatory Actions Unit of the DMV to obtain approval to install IID (an attorney cannot call for you according to the DMV due to privacy issues), AND
    1. Reason you are calling: you must be on a specific list to have permission to have IID installed
    2. you will receive a unique number to obtain an IID
  • Pay a license reissuance fee to the DMV once you are approved for a restricted license.

 

  1. 10-Day Rule Still Applies
    1. A Licensee must still request an APS hearing within 10 days of arrest in order to preserve his/her right to a hearing.

 

  • If a person is convicted of a DUI in court:
    1. No hard suspension IF installed IID within first 30 days of arrest
      1. Credit for time licensee has had IID on vehicle
    2. Hard suspension IF a person did NOT install IID within first 30 days of arrest
      1. No credit because licensee did not obtain an IID within first 30 days of arrest
    3. Administrative Per Se Hearing – if the administrative suspension upheld, above applies as well

 

  1. Quick Reference Information:
    1. No stay AND IID (you can’t have both)
    2. Stay = no IID = hard suspension (a person IS NOT immediately eligible for a restricted license with the IID)
    3. No stay = IID = no hard suspension (a person IS immediately eligible for a restricted license with the IID)

 

Exceptions to being immediately eligible for the installation of an IID:

There are licensees who will not be allowed to put in an IID if his/her Administrative Per Se suspension is upheld:

  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test when requested by a peace officer
    1. 1-year hard suspension/ no driving (if convicted in court and/or APS hearing is upheld)
  • Commercial license holders (Class A or B)
    1. 1-year hard suspension/no driving (if convicted in court and/or APS hearing is upheld)
  • DMV Probation Violation upheld with the Department of Motor Vehicles
    1. Zero-tolerance for any measurable amount of alcohol while driving
    2. 1-year hard suspension/no driving
  • Drivers under 21 (if convicted in court for a traffic infraction of having any measurable amount of alcohol in one’s system while driving and/ or misdemeanor DUI):
    1. 30 days hard suspension (no driving)
    2. May apply for a critical needs license after 1st 30 days of no driving
      1. It is highly likely a person will be required to install the IID upon the DMV granting the application for a critical needs license.

 

Instead of installing an IID, may a person “sit out” during the suspension period? What if a person does not own a vehicle?

The Department of Motor Vehicles requires that a person who is suspended install the IID for the specified time frame. A person can request and be granted an exemption from installing the IID for not having a vehicle registered to him/her; however, he/she will not be legally able to drive.  The DMV will require the installation of the IID upon registering a vehicle in his/her name.

 

Driving a company vehicle

An individual may drive a company vehicle without the IID being installed; however, one must receive approval from the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles has a form which must be signed by the employer which indicates that the employer is aware of the employee’s restricted license status, and despite such, permits the person to drive the company vehicle. This does not avoid the need for an individual to install an IID on his/her personal vehicle.

 

Susan Haber
Susan Haber
Susan Haber is the Director of Legal Services and the Senior Managing Attorney at The Kavinoky Law Firm. For over 20 years, Susan has practiced in the area of criminal law in Los Angeles, California. In 1995, Susan graduated Summa Cum Laude from U.C.L.A. and graduated from Loyola Law School in 1998. Prior to working at The Kavinoky Law Firm, Susan was a Deputy District Attorney for many years at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.