If convicted of more than one DUI, you can only have your license back if you agree to have an interlock ignition device installed in your car. Even if the time period of your suspension ends, driving without an ignition interlock device is illegal. You can have your license suspended again. The amount of time that you have to keep the device installed in your car will vary. It will depend on how many previous DUI convictions you have.

If you have one DUI conviction, you must use the ignition interlock device for one year after your license suspension ends. If charged with a second DUI offense, you must use the device for three years after your license suspension ends. Upon a third or subsequent conviction, you will have to use the device for the rest of your life. If caught driving without the device during this time period, you risk having your license suspended again. If you drive more than one car regularly, you must have the device installed on the additional cars that you use.

About the Ignition Interlock Device

Once your license suspension ends, you will have to apply to get an interlock ignition device. You can apply through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This device usually goes in the glove compartment or somewhere on the passenger’s side. The interlock ignition device connects to the ignition system in your engine.

How it Works

The ignition interlock device combines breathalyzer technology with car alarm technology. Car alarms use an ignition kill system to prevent your car from starting when an intruder enters your car and tries to steal it. Combining this ignition kill system with a breath test, you will not be able to start your car if you are under the influence of alcohol. A fuel cell censor detects ethanol and other types of alcohol. When you breathe into the sensor, the alcohol gets measured as a result of a chemical oxidation reaction that generates an electric current. The electric current gets measured and converted back into an alcohol equivalent reading in order to determine your BAC.

The ignition kill system gets triggered if your BAC is too high for you to drive safely. The technology used in ignition interlock devices has come a long way since it started. The new alcohol specific technology eliminates problems related to the sensor. One problem is the false positives.

Your BAC

The handheld alcohol sensor usually attaches to a car’s dashboard. Every time that you want to start your car, you must first blow air into this alcohol sensor unit. A limit gets set on this alcohol sensor unit. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than this limit, the car will not start. The BAC limit will vary. But, it is usually somewhere between .02% and .04%. Your BAC limit gets monitored and recorded by a computer chip within the device. If your BAC goes over the limit set by the device, this information gets stored. Law enforcement can use this information in future cases against you. The computer chip will also sense if the device gets tampered with. If this happens, you have to install a new device.

Rolling Tests

Some interlock ignition devices also give rolling tests. These are tests that occur at random intervals while you are driving. Rolling tests occur from about five to 30 minutes once the car has started. The purpose of the rolling tests is to prevent you from staying sober long enough to start the car but then consuming alcohol once you begin driving. It will also deter you from having a sober friend blow into the interlock ignition device to start your car for you.

If you do not provide a breath sample during a rolling test, or if your BAC is higher than the limit that the interlock ignition device is set at, a warning alarm will go off. This warning can vary from your headlights blinking to your car horn honking until you turn the ignition off. Once the car starts, the ignition interlock device cannot turn off your car. You will have to manually turn off the engine.

Maintenance

Maintenance happens on your interlock ignition device monthly to ensure that it works properly. The data logs in the device will be downloaded and recorded during this maintenance. The police can monitor how many times you passed or failed the BAC test, as well as the results of the rolling tests. Therefore, if you have an interlock ignition device, make sure that you can pass the test every time you want to drive.

Applying for the Ignition Interlock Device

If you are required to participate in the ignition interlock program as a condition for getting your license back, you have to meet some requirements to apply. In order to be eligible for the program, you must prove that you have a valid license and registration. This means that if your license is currently suspended, you won’t be able to apply for the program until the suspension is over. You can only apply to the ignition interlock program if you have been convicted of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault, or an OUI. You must also have served the required license suspension for each of these crimes. For vehicular manslaughter, this suspension is for one year. For vehicular assault, the suspension lasts one year. And, for a first offense OUI, the license suspension is 45 days. All license suspension issues must be resolved before you can apply to the program.

How to Apply

In order to apply, you will first have to send $175 to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This fulfills the required restoration fee. In addition, an administration fee of $100 should be submitted, as well as the first part of the ignition interlock device installation application, which can be found at the DMV website. This can be sent to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

Driver Services Division

60 State Street

Wethersfield, Connecticut 06161-2525

If you become part of the program, an ignition interlock device must be installed on all vehicles that you own. You will have to pay for the device itself as well as the maintenance required for the device. If you want to install a device on a car that you do not own, the owner must fill out an additional application.

While the DMV is the agency that approves your ignition interlock device application, independent companies install the devices. This means that you will have to pay the companies for the device itself, installation, and maintenance. For more information, you can contact one of these ignition interlock device providers:

  • Alcohol Detection Systems, 1-888-786-7384.
  • Draeger Safety Diagnostics, 1-800-332-6858.
  • Intoxalock, 1-877-777-5020.
  • LifeSafer Inc., 1-855-892-7792.
  • Sensolock of America, 1-800-219-9936.
  • Smart Start, 1-800-880-3394.

Connecticut has adopted the ignition interlock device program because of its effectiveness in keeping roadways safe. Recent studies indicate that the rearrest rates for participants in the ignition interlock device program have reduced by sixty percent.

Why Do You Need an Ignition Interlock Device?

First-time offenders will have ignition interlock-equipped vehicles for one year after their suspension ends. Second-time offenders have to have an ignition interlock device for a period of three years following a suspension.  The DUI law adds an additional punishment for second-time offenders to drive in a limited fashion during the first year of the three-year interlock period.  Second-time offenders can drive only to:

  • Work.
  • School.
  • A drug or alcohol education program; or
  • An ignition interlock device service center.

Those drivers who are convicted of DUI a third time have their licenses revoked. A third-time offender can seek restoration of their license after two years. The DMV Commissioner can restore the driver’s license on the condition that the driver only drive ignition interlock-equipped vehicles. This condition can be lifted after driving an IID vehicle for 15 years. But the driver would have to request a hearing with good cause being shown.

Special Circumstances

The DUI law also requires the use of an ignition interlock device for two years after the one-year license suspension of those convicted of second degree manslaughter or second degree assault with a motor vehicle. These types of crimes apply to drivers who have caused death or serious injury to people while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The court system can order a person arrested for DUI, second degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, or second degree assault with a motor vehicle to operate vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices as a condition of:

  • Release on bail.
  • Probation.
  • Granting an application to participate in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program.

Penalties

There are penalties for evading ignition interlock restrictions imposed by court order. If a driver asks another person to breath into an interlock to start a car, or tampers with the device, the driver has committed a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to three months in prison. You could face up to a $500 fine, or possibly both. If a driver operates a motor vehicle that is either not equipped with an interlock device that is functioning, or that a court has prohibited the person from driving, the driver will face stiffer penalties depending upon the offense. These penalties are based up the number of offenses. The penalty for the first offense is:

  • $500-$1,000 fine
  • Up to one year in prison.
  • 30 days mandatory minimum jail sentence.

For second offenses:

  • $500-$1,000 fine.
  • Up to two years in prison.
  • 120 days mandatory minimum jail sentence.

For those convicted of a third offense, there is:

  • $500-$1,000 fine.
  • Up to three years in prison.
  • One year mandatory minimum jail sentence.

It should be noted that the court doesn’t have to impose the mandatory minimum if there are mitigating circumstances. This circumstances must be stated in writing. The DMV has to suspend the driver’s license of any nonresident who has committed any of the offenses listed above. The suspension will last for one year. Because many judges are afraid of lobbying groups, they don’t want to put mitigating reasons on the record. This is because it could be used against them in future hearings.

Ineligibility

A driver is not eligible to operate a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock device if their driver’s license was suspended for any reason other than a conviction of the following:

  • DUI.
  • Second degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.
  • Second degree assault with a motor vehicle.