Annie’s Law Series Part II: The What, Why, and How of Ignition Interlock Devices

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Every state has enacted some type of ignition interlock device (IID) law. Some are mandatory, while others provide for some sort of initiative that encourages offenders to opt for an ignition interlock device. Ohio, via Annie’s law, has become one of these states. It provides that first-time offenders may elect to have an IID installed and forego license suspension or limited driving privileges. Before this, persons accused of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OMVI) would immediately lose driving privileges via an automatic license suspension. What is an IID, though? How does it work, and what will you have to do if you opt for an IID?

IIDs create a proactive medium for controlling impaired driving. Rather than punishing individuals for driving impaired, they prevent them from doing so. The device is installed in the driver’s vehicle, typically in a glove compartment on the passenger side, and then hard-wired to the engine’s ignition system. The driver must blow approximately 1.5 liters of air into a hand-held alcohol sensor unit before starting the engine. If the driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) level presents over a pre-set limit, the IID will prevent the car from starting.

Because the IID is attached to the vehicle and not the driver, many also require the driver to provide “rolling” samples of breath while driving. These are required in 5-30 minute intervals, to ensure that the driver remains sober while driving and that the drive did not have a sober driver blow into the IID to start the car and then switch places with the driver. If the driver fails to provide a rolling sample or provides a sample over the limit, the IID will issue a warning, and an alarm will go off. Thus, the IID will not shut down the vehicle’s engine, but the car will begin to do something obnoxious, such as emit a loud horn sound or bright flashing lights, until the ignition is turned off. Furthermore, the IID contains a computer chip that records BAC each time the driver blows. If the BAC is over the pre-set limit, the report can be downloaded and provided to law enforcement or the court. These records also note if there has been tampering with the IID or whether the driver failed to submit to a random or rolling test.

Stay tuned for more information on Annie’s Law and Ohio’s use of Ignition Interlock Devices!

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