DUI Convictions and the California IID Law

By Jeffery Rubenstein

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
An IID is a breath machine which is connected to the starting-component of a vehicle. For the vehicle to start, the driver must blow into the device. The device is installed on the vehicle’s steering column. The sample of air blown into the device is then analyzed by the machine to determine whether there is any alcohol in the breath sample. The car will start so long as there is no alcohol in the breath sample provided.

Once the car starts, the IID will require the driver to provide breath samples during the time the vehicle is turned on and moving. The IID alerts the driver that they must provide a breath sample. The driver does not need to pull over, stop, or turn off the car in order to blow into the device.

The IID records and saves all breath samples collected. It is the IID company’s responsibility for maintaining and calibrating the IID and will store all breath results of samples provided. It is critical for a person who is using an IID to follow all rules and guidelines to ensure the machine is being used properly. Any violation of the proper use of the device (i.e.: alcohol being detected in a breath sample, tampering, disabling the device) may result in the California Department of Motor Vehicles terminating a person’s ability to have a restricted license with the IID and reinstate the mandatory suspension of a person’s driving privileges.

How much does the IID cost?
The monthly cost of having an IID in one’s vehicle depends on the make and model of the vehicle. In addition, there may be installation and removal charges for the IID as well. A list of IID providers are on the DMV’s website: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/vehicle-industry-services/occupational-licensing/occupational-licenses/breath-alcohol-ignition-interlock-device-baiid-manufacturer/ignition-interlock-device-iid-list/

How Long Does a Person Need to have an IID?
The length of time a person needs to have an IID installed in their vehicle depends on the charge for which the person is convicted:

First DUI conviction within 10 years:

Without injuries:

  • 6-month restricted license with an IID installed where one can drive anywhere he/she chooses, OR 1-year restricted license to only drive to and from work and an alcohol treatment program

With injuries:

  • 6-month restricted license with an IID is required. There is no option to forgo installing the IID and having restricted driving privileges.

Second misdemeanor DUI conviction within 10 years:

  • IID required for one year

Third misdemeanor DUI conviction within 10 years:

  • IID required for two years

Fourth or subsequent DUI conviction or a Felony DUI conviction:

  • IID required for three years

How May I Receive a Restricted License with an IID?

  1. An insurance company must electronically file an SR-22 form with the DMV. An SR-22 is a form shows the DMV that a person is insured while driving a vehicle.
  2. Register for the applicable DMV-approved alcohol education class. Proof of enrollment must be electronically sent to DMV.
  3. Install an Ignition Interlock Device in any car you own or operate. The IID company should provide you with proof of installation AND send electronically to the DMV proof of installation as well.
  4. Pay a license reissuance fee to the DMV once approved for a restricted license.

Are There Exceptions to being Eligible for Obtaining a Restricted License with an IID?
Those who fall into one of the categories below will not be allowed to obtain a restricted license with an IID if they receive a conviction in court for one of the items below and/or the DMV suspends a person’s driving privileges based on an Administrative Per Se Hearing:

Refusing to submit to a chemical test when requested by a peace officer

  • Consequence: 1-year hard suspension/ no driving (if convicted in court and/or APS hearing is upheld)

Commercial license holders (Class A or B)

  • 1-year hard suspension/no driving (if convicted in court and/or APS hearing is upheld)
  • Motorcycle Licenses: An IID cannot be installed on a motorcycle.

Drivers under 21 (if convicted in court for a traffic infraction of having any measurable amount of alcohol in one’s system while driving, misdemeanor reckless driving with alcohol in one’s system, misdemeanor DUI, or felony DUI).

  • Exception: 30 days hard suspension (no driving)
  • One apply for a critical needs license after the first 30 days of no driving
  • It is highly likely a person will be required to install the IID upon the DMV granting the application for a critical needs license.

May a person “sit out” during the suspension period and not install an IID? What if a person does not own a vehicle?

  1. The Department of Motor Vehicles allows ONLY for 1st DUI offenders to “opt-out” of putting the IID in their vehicle; however, the first 30 days after a person is convicted of a DUI the person is unable to legally drive. After that time, a person may obtain a restricted license for 11 months upon showing proof to the DMV enrollment in a DMV-approved alcohol education class, proof of insurance, and the payment of a license-reissuance fee. This type of restricted license allows a person to only drive to and from work and to and from a DMV-approved alcohol program.
    On a 2nd DUI (or more) conviction, the law requires a person to install the IID for the specified time frame (outlined above). A person can request and be granted an exemption from installing the IID for not having a vehicle registered to them; however, they will not be legally able to drive any vehicle during that time frame. The DMV will require the installation of the IID upon requesting a restricted license.
  2. May I Drive a Company Car if I have a Restricted License?
    An individual may drive a company vehicle without the IID being installed; however, one must receive approval from the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles has a form which must be signed by the employer which indicates that the employer is aware of the employee’s restricted license status, and despite such, permits the person to drive the company vehicle. This does not avoid any requirement for an individual to install an IID on his/her personal vehicle.

You have only 10 Days to Contact the DMV
A person must still request an administrative per se hearing with the California DMV within 10 days from arrest in order to preserve an individual’s right to a hearing.

History of IID Law
In 2010, the pilot Ignition Interlock Device program began in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare Counties. The pilot program’s findings showed that the installation of IIDs reduced the number of DUI incidents and those who re-offend (continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drive with a blood alcohol content or .08% or higher.) On January 1, 2019, the Ignition Interlock Law became effective and will remain in effective till January 1, 2026.

If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI, please call the Law Office of Jeffery K. Rubenstein at (310) 477-2100. We are here to help.

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