Ignition interlock device: What you need to know

Driving under the influence is a serious charge that comes with a lot of unknowns. You may ask how much it will cost. Will I lose my license? Will I face jail time?

In addition to these concerns, you may also worry about your driving restrictions, like an ignition interlock device. As part of the punishment for a DUI, South Carolina requires convicted drivers to obtain an ignition interlock device to prevent further drunk driving.

What is an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath testing device that hooks up to your vehicle’s ignition and prevents you from starting the vehicle if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .02 percent.

Intermittently, the IID will ask for a retest while the vehicle is running. At this time, you must provide a breath sample into the device. Failure to do so will result in a penalty. Although the IID cannot disable your vehicle while it’s running, after a failed or missed running test, some brands of IIDs will sound the horn or an alarm until the vehicle is shut off.

South Carolina IIDs feature cameras to make sure no one else blows into the device for you during a running test or when starting the vehicle.

Who need an ignition interlock device?

South Carolina law requires every first-time offender with a BAC over .15 percent and any subsequent offenders to install an IID with a camera in every vehicle they drive.

Drivers convicted of DUI and sentenced to have an IID must complete the IID program before regaining their non-restricted license. Anyone who chooses not to enroll in the program will have their driver’s license suspended indefinitely.

It is a driver’s responsibility to pay for the IID and its installation after a conviction. Drivers with an IID must have the device inspected and its data downloaded every 60 days at an authorized service center.

How does the interlock program work?

A first DUI offense requires the driver have an IID for at least six months. A second offense requires an IID for two years. A third offense requires an IID for three years. And after four or more offenses, the driver needs an IID for life.

However, your participation in the program may be extended if you commit violations like failing to have your IID serviced every 60 days, failing to complete a running test, completing a running test with a prohibited BAC, tampering with the IID or having someone else use the IID to start your vehicle.

Having an IID in your car can be expensive, inconvenient and embarrassing. Avoiding it – and the other consequences of a DUI – by defending yourself against charges can be critical.