A Look at Ignition Interlock Devices

Thomas Jeter • January 29, 2015

A Look at Ignition Interlock Devices

Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently issued a report stating that South Carolina ranks at the top of the list for DUI-related deaths. Pulling the data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MADD reports that in 2013, 335 people died as the result of an accident in which alcohol was involved. The advocacy group has been one of the loudest voices advocating for breath alcohol ignition interlock systems to be used in South Carolina and across the country. Anyone facing a DUI charge should understand when and how the devices are used.

 What Is Ignition Interlock?

An ignition interlock device is a mechanism that is most often installed on the dashboard of a vehicle. A motorist will have to breathe into the device, which will analyze the results. If the device registers an alcohol content of a certain amount, the car will not start. Further, most devices are equipped with a camera, which will ensure that the people who are convicted of DUI are the ones blowing into the machine.

 How Is Ignition Interlock Used in South Carolina?

 In South Carolina, ignition interlock systems are mandatory for any driver who has been convicted of a DUI offense. The state makes an exception for work vehicles as long as the driver does not own the business. Motorists will have to petition the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles in order to obtain the exemption. In North Carolina, drivers may only have to get such a device if they have had more than one DUI conviction or if on their first offense, their blood alcohol concentration registered at 0.15 or higher.

 The Point System

 Emma’s Law established a complicated system in conjunction with the South Carolina ignition interlock program that assigns points for violations such as the following:

  • Failing to take the vehicle to a service station for a calibration every 60 days
  • Failing to take a “re-test” when the machine demands it
  • Taking a re-test and blowing a certain amount

According to the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, acquiring points can mean an adding on time to how long a driver must use an ignition interlock system. In some cases, drivers with too many points may have to take an alcohol rehabilitation course or even lose their suspended driving licenses. The DPPPS does allow drivers to appeal points when they have 3.5 points or fewer. Additionally, after completing a suspension period, points will be reset to zero.

At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we understand that driving with an ignition interlock device can be inconvenient and even embarrassing. Our goal is to help protect a client’s freedom and driving record.  Let us walk you through your case and provide sound legal advice. Call (803) 351-3597 to schedule a free consultation.