California Ignition Interlock Device Laws 2016

California Ignition Interlock Device Laws 2016 – Most people call it IID or in full the Ignition Interlock Device. Its similarity resembles a cell phone or a breathalyzer. It is a court order device that is installed in vehicles to help deter driving while intoxicated DWI and driving under the influence DUI in California.

In California, the Ignition Interlock is part of the program penalties. Each state gets to choose the technology that would lead to accurate results, so the mostly go for advanced technology. The device has a lockout period which becomes active when the driver makes a failed breath alcohol test. This Lockout period increase in every subsequent failure, giving the driver time for the alcohol to dissipate from the mouth. Once you start your vehicle, the IID has no mechanism installed to stop the vehicle when it is moving.

California has Ignition Interlock Laws, which come to effect the moment you get arrested for either a DUI or DWI. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) .8 or more, you are a teenage driver with any level of alcohol concentration or when you refuse to take a chemical test, then you automatically get an Administrative license suspension. In case, you had requested a hearing in a court and you get sentenced after a plea agreement or a trial, then you are liable for a criminal court license suspension.

You can end up with one suspension, Administrative license suspension, if your attorney helps you win the hearing. A DUI conviction in certain counties in the state will require an ignition interlock device (IID) be used on any vehicle you own or operate. Other counties in the state will depend on the court’s discretion on whether the device is required or not.

The period of license suspension and driving with an Ignition Interlock are not the same because they vary depending on the history of DUI or DWI convictions. The same applies when you are using a restricted license. A DUI conviction in California may appear as a misdemeanor (first, second, and third offenses) or felony (an accident that killed or injured a person and if you have been arrested for a fourth DUI offense within 10 years); misdemeanor carries lighter penalties. DUI interlock laws for offences that have occurred within a period of 10 years.

1st offence 2nd offence 3rd offence 4th or more offence
Interlock Period (Misdemeanor Conviction) 5 Months 12 Months 24 Months 36 Months
Interlock Period (Felony Conviction) 12 Months 24 Months 36 Months 48 Months

The IID restriction should ranges from 5 to 48 months and depends upon the number of prior DUI convictions or the type of conviction. The term shall be determined by the court, a period not more than 3 years from the date of conviction, if it orders the ignition interlock device restriction. Second or subsequent DUI offenders require an IID installation after they have completed at least one year of your DUI suspension/revocation so that they can get a restricted driver license. Wet reckless offenders may apply for an IID-restricted driver license if they complete their 1 year administrative per se (APS) suspension

DUI driver’s license suspension and restricted license

(In 10 years ) 1st offence 2nd offence 3rd offence 4th or more offence
Suspension Period 6 Months 2 Years 3 Years 4 Years
Restricted license application At discretion of court 90 Days 18 Months 18 Months
DUI Program 8- 30 months

Those who do not have cars or drive hired and rented cars may benefit from some exceptions but he or she may not be able to drive a vehicle until the license suspension period is over.

Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Program

The legislation gave the DMV mandate to conduct an IID program in the pilot counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare). This program requires convicted persons to install certified IID on the vehicle he or she operate or own.  All DUI reinstatement requirements must be met before one is allowed to be issued, restricted, reinstated or reissued a driver license. In addition, one has to pay a $45 administrative service fee (ASF) and submit a DMV Ordered Verification of Ignition Interlock form.

The program applies only to the county in which the violation took place, and not the residence of the driver. There is an Exemption IID form for drivers who do not own or have access to a vehicle. This request form should be completed and returned within 30 days from the time you received a notice from the department in regards to the IID requirement program. Exempted drivers do not need to provide proof of installation, however, the IID restriction remains active for the allocated term; this  acknowledges that he/she  can only operate a vehicle equipped with an IID.

The California Ignition Interlock law is considered as a Discretionary and it covers the counties of Los Angeles, Tulare, Sacramento, and Alameda. If you live in a non-pilot county and get cited and convicted of DUI in an IID pilot county you will have to comply with the law. You can get your driving privileges back before the suspension period if you live in a non-pilot county if you obtain an IID restriction and have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

How it works

The mechanism is connected to the ignition system of a vehicle to prevent the car from starting unless the driver delivers a breath sample. This is to say, the device is programmed to a certain alcoholic content limit such that if exceeded, the car won’t start. The vehicle will only respond when the alcohol limit (0.029% to 0.08%) is below the pre-programmed level. The device comes with a backup lithium battery to protect the data log’s memory

Rolling or running Ignition Interlock Device will not stop on the road when in motion, but it will signal you when you need to stop and deliver another sample at random intervals. The device also records data which is transmitted through a wireless connection to the company hired to install it; it can also be programmed to channel the information to the relevant authority responsible for your DUI or DWI conviction. The collection of the information by the state department or authority in charge of your probation will depend on the state, others may decide to receive the data once in a month. The data provided to the DMV is not only used to monitor your progress, it enters into a database that is mostly used to evaluate the effectiveness of an IID in reducing DUI’s.

The device does not control the car when it is moving, so it does not stop the vehicle when intervals of breath samples are required. What it does is, it signals the driver for a retest(when the car has stopped), if the driver fails to deliver a breath test, the car horn will honk and the lights will flash which is intended to alert law enforcement until the vehicle is turned off for safety purpose.

When do you need an Ignition interlock device (IID)?

You require an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle before you can reinstate your driver license after you have been convicted for:

  • Alcohol or drug related DUI with a BAC of at least 0.15%
  • Chemical test refusal
  • Negligent and reckless driving

The court may order you seek an authorized installer and provide proof of the installation to relevant authorities in charge of your case. The court has special procedures and forms to monitor IID device installations. The court will first notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), who will place a restriction on your driver license when you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and your license is suspended or revoked. If you fail to comply with the order or restrictions, your driving privilege will remain suspended until to meet the court agreement.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets the standards for ignition interlocks and these standards ensure that the devices are reliable and efficient when in use. Since you have been given the liability to drive in your suspension period, the state sees makes you responsible for the purchase and installation of the device.

The cost involved when using the ignition interlocks devices are not limited to the installation and the leasing charges. The device requires maintenance which consists of monitoring and calibration. If you cannot afford these devices, the state may have an indigent fund is set up to cover the costs for you.

It is possible to bypass these devices which are being discouraged by the law such as:

  • Blowing the device on behalf of the offender to start the car
  • Tempering, bypassing or removing the device
  • Renting or borrowing a vehicle while hiding your restricted driving privileges or knowingly renting or lending a vehicle to such a person
  • Operating a vehicle in California without an IID
  • Failing three or more times when taking the test

The state makes it impossible to assist the driver by requiring specific breath patterns, random samples and using a short cord. The device records the attempts failed when delivering the breath test, all forms activities that may cause harm to the device, engine starts and stops, and breath test results.

Advanced technology comes with anti-circumvention features that deter such malpractice such as tamper-proof seals. Some devices have temperature and air gauges that prevent the offender from using compressed air to blow into the device. The car can be used by any driver provided that the person provides proof of sobriety by blowing into the device.

IID Providers

The state of California has identified IID manufacturers and posted the list on their DMV website. To operate an IID installation business in California requires one to obtain a valid license from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) – part of the Department of Consumer Affairs. Therefore, if you wish to know whether an IID installer is licensed, you can visit the BAR website. From the website, you will get access to the models available and the manufacturers that offer the type of device.

The IID installation must not exceed 60 days before it has been calibrated and inspected by a certified installer. The responsibility of the certified installer is to ensure that no violations have been logged on the device and it is working properly. The installers will report to the court or DMV if the driver does not comply with the IID requirements and failure to abide by the maintenance or calibration requirements of the IID. This leads to the suspension and revocation of the driver’s driving privilege. Until all reinstatement requirements are met, the driving privilege will remain revoked or suspended for the remaining original period.

It is hard to tell the IID installation and monitoring fees in California because not all IID manufacturers have the same price quotes. The fees may also vary depending on where you are located in the state. California law has fines and/or penalties for individuals who are caught assisting the driver in the circumvention of the IID. If the device asks for running retest and the driver fails to comply with the request, the device will log a violation.

If you do not service your IID, then it will enter a lockout condition making the driver incapable of operating the vehicle. Before you do any repairs to on your vehicle, you are advised to contact the IID service provider in case there will be any power interruption during the process. The device is easy to use when it requires periodic samples, you just have to pull over and breathe into the device. If you are convicted of a DUI violation under California Vehicle Code or Penal Code, you will receive the following notices by mail:

  • Order of Suspension or Revocation
  • Order of Installment of an Ignition Interlock Device
  • DUI IID Insert

Most of the information about the ID pilot program and driver license reinstatement requirements will be provided in these notices.

The IID does not apply to my motorcycles.  Both commercial and non-commercial drivers fall under the California Ignition Interlock laws. The installation cost ranges from $25 to $128 and the monthly fee ranges from $55 to $75- the monthly fee may include tax charges.

If you use medicine with an alcohol base or mouthwash in the morning, the device will normally indicate the alcohol content and there is no way to justify this case because alcohol is alcohol. Therefore, the driver is cautioned about the using substances that contain alcohol content in them.

When you are not in California and your IID fails, it is important to contact the primary service center to assist you in contacting a nearby center. The interlock ignition law has been adopted in all of the 50 states in America.  Other states have made it mandatory when it appears as a condition in the probation program. This increased use of IIDs is as a result of the support campaigns generated by the Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

There is increasing support from the public to the use of interlocking ignition devices since they reduce the number of drunk drivers. The number of accidents reduces when offenders are denied the chance to drive if they are not sober. Many states have started to embrace the Ignition Interlock laws due to its efficiency in reducing fatalities on the roads and increase state road funds from the Government.

According to the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety, when the IIDs are used together with the service and comprehensive monitoring programs, the rate of repeat drunk driving offenses are reduced by 40-95%. The interlocking ignition device reduces a person’s relapse into criminal behavior by two-thirds.

For more information about California Ignition Interlock laws, contact us and let us help you comply with court orders. When you require an SR22/FR44/SR50/SR22A, just fill our auto quote form. We value our customer relationship, feel free to contact our support team.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call: (855) 438-7353. One of our licensed agents will help you right away.