Ignition Interlock Devices in Texas
Texas drivers may have heard the term “ignition interlock device” thrown around in circles, especially when used as a deterrent for misbehaving on the roads.But many may not actually know what one of these is, or how it is used. In Texas, an ignition interlock device is a mechanism installed on a vehicle’s dashboard that acts as an in-car breathalyzer; it is used as a sentence for drunk drivers convicted of a DWI, usually for a second offense. The device is used in almost all 50 states, with some such as Arizona and Utah making them mandatory for all DUI offenses, with or without alcohol. In Texas, the court may require installation of an IID for first-time DWI offenses, and are required to order it in any case of two or more convictions. It may also be requested as a condition of probation or an alternative to harsher sentencing.
How Does the Device Work?
The IID requires a driver to submit a breath sample upon getting into the car. If a drivers blood alcohol content is a level higher than the preset limit, your vehicle will be disabled and you will not be able to drive. This temporary lockout will last for 15 minutes, after which time you may attempt another sample. As you are driving, the IID will continuously require samples, typically every 5-15 minutes or so. A restricted interlock license requires that an IID be installed on ALL vehicles the driver operates, with the sometime exception of commercial vehicles owned and operated by the driver’s employer. However, the employer must be notified of the driver’s restricted interlock license, and proof of notification must be kept in the vehicle at all times.
Why the Ignition Interlock Device Works
The IID is an excellent deterrent against further drunk driving, as it literally will not allow the vehicle to operate if any alcohol is detected upon the breath. If the driver can’t drive, they also can’t potentially injure or kill other drivers and passengers.
If the IID detects alcohol and shuts down the vehicle, it is recorded in its system. This record is periodically printed or downloaded every time the sensors are calibrated, and reported to whichever authority monitors the driver’s activity. Each failed attempt causes a longer lock-out period. Any violations could result in further and harsher penalties, which further deter offenders from being intoxicated behind the wheel. There are also anti-circumvention provisions put in place so that drivers are unable to submit false or bogus filtered breath samples. Any attempt to tamper with the device will activate the vehicle’s horn and emergency lights, will be recorded in the device’s memory, and will require immediate service and subsequent penalties.
If a driver provides 3 breath samples on separate occasions that are above its present limit, this will also trigger a “violations reset” and the driver will need to get the IID serviced. If this doesn’t occur within a week, it will go into permanent lockout and the vehicle will not start altogether. These provisions are put in place to ensure that intoxicated drivers are completely unable to get behind the wheel.
Prevent IID Mishaps
It is important to note that there are certain substances with an alcohol base that could set off the sensor, such as alcohol-based mouth wash. Drivers who use an IID must be extra careful to watch everything they consume before they drive, and during their commute.