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Ignition Interlock Device (IID) as a DUI Penalty in Virginia / D.C. Metro Area

When you are convicted of a DWI or DUI in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, you may be required – as part of your sentence – to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on each of your vehicles you own and operate. Here, S.L. England, trusted and resourceful DUI attorney representing clients throughout the D.C. and Virginia metro area, provides an overview of what you should know about IIDs if you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI.


What is an ignition interlock device (IID)?

An IID is a piece of equipment that analyzes breath alcohol. It is installed onto the dashboard of your vehicle. Each time you want to start the vehicle, you must breathe into the device and blow a clean sample. Certain mechanisms are put into place to help prevent fraud, like when another person tries to blow into the device for you. 

When the IID detects alcohol on the breath, anything as low as 0.02% blood alcohol content (BAC), the car will not start and a report will be sent directly to the court. For many devices, when the IID detects alcohol exceeding the minimum, you will be warned of the same before an alarm goes off. This alarm will continue either you turn off the ignition is turned off or you blow a clean breath sample. 

The IID will require that you blow into the device at random times, too. If you are uncomfortable blowing into the device while driving, you are given ample time to pull over. But even then, if you do not blow or you blow a breath sample that exceeds the limit, the device will not immobilize the vehicle for obvious safety reasons. Once you stop, however, the vehicle will not start until a clean sample is blown. 

Each sample is recorded and sent to the designated authorities. Tampering or attempts to circumvent the device can result in additional penalties.

As part of the DUI penalty, you must pay for the device and its installation and any other fees associated with it. As it is, the device can prove to be a serious inconvenience at a cost both in terms of money and quality of life. 

When is an ignition interlock device required in D.C. or Virginia?

An IID is generally required when an offender is a repeat offender or when it is offender first offense but his or her BAC was at or above 0.15%. 

You will also be required in Virginia to install an IID if you have been convicted of the DUI and want to drive on a restricted license.

The same is true in D.C. If you are eligible for the IID Program, you can obtain a restricted REAL ID license or a restricted Limited Purpose license on the condition the IID is installed (among other terms of the program).

Can an IID return a false positive that could potentially get you into trouble?

False positives are quite possible with IIDs. Like any equipment, IIDs are not free from errors. Different foods or even health conditions can produce a false positive. Examples include:

  • spicy foods – when mixed with HCI in the stomach, methane is created and can cause a positive reaction.
  • chewing tobacco – many brands contain raw ethyl alcohol, and this is both a type of alcohol found in some alcoholic beverages and a type that the IID is programmed to identify.
  • mouthwash – mouthwash can contain up to 30% alcohol and can often react to an ignition interlock device to create a wrong reading.
  • energy drinks – some energy drinks have low levels of ethanol and a blow into an IID after drinking many different types of energy drinks can cause you to exceed the limited BAC level.
  • sweets – many sweets contain both sugar and yeast and the combination can induce an IID to return a false positive on occasion.  

If you are required to have an IID, it is best to make sure you have no alcohol – not even via an innocent mistake – on your breath. Your restricted license could be taken away. You could also face time in jail, among other possible penalties. 

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in the D.C. and Virginia Metropolitan Area

Being charged with a DUI or DWI in the D.C. metropolitan area can be scary as much as a conviction can be life-changing. To fight your DUI charge, contact S.L. England. He is a trusted DUI defense attorney who cares about his clients. He believes in your Constitutional right to defend yourself, and as your advocate, he strategizes with that in mind. Contact his law office by phone at 202-489-0720 or complete an online form to schedule a consultation today.


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When you hire S.L. England, we will assign your case to a seasoned trial attorney that cares about getting results. We represent our individual clients as aggressively as represent our corporate business clients. Check our reviews on Google and Yelp to see what our clients have to say. We look forward to representing you.


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