Maryland DUI

How do Ignition Interlock Systems Work?

The ignition interlock system is important for drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland. If you’ve never heard of the ignition interlock system, it means that you’ve never been arrested and convicted of DUI. What is the point of these systems? They are installed in the vehicles of most drivers who are convicted for DUI as a deterrent to prevent them from driving under the influence again. Here is a detailed look at the ignition interlock system, how it works, and what its goal is when installed in a vehicle.

When Ignition Interlock Devices are Required

An ignition interlock device may not need to be installed in your vehicle on the first DUI offense. But the more offenses you have to your name, the more likely it is that the device will be required in your vehicle. You also have the option of voluntarily entering into Maryland’s ignition interlock program, if you are eligible, so that you can avoid a driver’s license suspension. If you decide to participate of your own volition, you will need to remain in the program for the following length:

  • 180 days, if the breath test you submitted was between 0.08 and 0.15
  • One year, if the breath test you submitted was 0.15 or higher
  • One year, if you refused to submit to the mandatory chemical test

The eligibility requirements for participating in the Maryland Ignition Interlock Program are as follows:

  • Your driver’s license is not suspended, revoked, canceled or refused at the time of your join request
  • You must surrender your Maryland driver’s license to the Motor Vehicle Association (MVA)
  • Tell the MVA in writing that you wish to participate in the program
  • Do you have a commercial license? You must obtain a non-commercial license in order to enter into the program

Participants who are found to have violated any of the Program provisions will be subject to removal from the Ignition Interlock Program and the MVA will impose the full period of suspension.

Violations of the Program rules and requirements include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Failure to have the ignition interlock device installed and obtain a Maryland driver’s license restricted to the operation only of vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device;
  • Failure to appear for the required monthly monitoring visit every thirty (30) days;
  • Operating a motor vehicle not equipped with a functioning interlock device approved for use in the Program;
  • Failure to abide by the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement with the Interlock Service Provider, including payment of all costs and fees associated with the Program;
  • Tampering with, bypassing, or otherwise removing or rendering inoperable the interlock device, or allowing someone else to do the same;
  • Attempting to start or operate the vehicle with BAC greater than .025;
  • Failure to submit to retests after starting the car;
  • Any license suspension or revocation imposed while participating in the Program.

There are some everyday items that contain small amount of alcohol and may cause the system to record a violation. Medications such as asthma inhalers or medications containing small amounts of alcohol may cause problems as well. The driver will be held responsible if any of these alcohol-based products cause them to violate the system. To prevent this, the Service Provider will instruct you regarding ignition interlock failures and what you can do to avoid them.

How the Ignition Interlock System Works

So, how does the ignition interlock system work? Whether you voluntarily opt into the program or have been required to have a system installed in your vehicle, it’s important to know how it works and what you need to do in order to drive. The point of this system is to reduce the number of drunk drivers on Maryland’s roads. A person who participates in the program is only permitted to drive a vehicle that has the system installed in it.

When a driver enters the program, the system is installed in their vehicle and hardwired to the car’s ignition system. Once the system is ready to operate, the driver will need to blow into a breathalyzer before the car will be able to start. If the driver blows a number over the calibrated number in the system, the vehicle’s ignition will not activate. The only way the ignition will activate is if the driver blows a number under what has been calibrated on the system.

The ignition interlock system will record the data provided by the driver and report it to the service provider. The service provider then sends the data to the Maryland MVA. Should you blow a 0.025 or higher, the vehicle will not start. If you blow less than a 0.025, the vehicle will start. The device might also request you to submit to retests while you are driving. You are not required to stop the vehicle to take part in a retest.

If the driver fails to administer a retest, or blows over 0.025 during a retest, the vehicle will not automatically turn off and come to a stop. Instead, a warning system will be initiated. This includes the headlights of the vehicle flashing and the horn honking. The warning system will not deactivate until the vehicle is brought to a stop and turned off by the driver.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Today

Are you facing DUI charges in Rockville, Maryland or the surrounding communities? If so, it’s important for you to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney about your situation. An attorney will be able to explain if you are eligible for the Maryland Ignition Interlock Program or if you need to build a defense to the DUI charges. Call the office of Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, today at 301-309-2000 to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal rights and options.

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