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When does Pennsylvania require an ignition interlock device?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) use chemical technology to promote better driving habits. An IID can prevent someone from starting a vehicle if they have too much alcohol in their bloodstream. It may require someone to perform a test while driving as well. The device can also maintain a record of test results to either show that someone has learned safe driving skills or displayed poor decision-making in recent months.

Drivers who must install IIDs in their vehicles have to accept the expense involved. It costs money to install the IID, and they must regularly present the vehicle and device for maintenance and calibration. The driver may also feel embarrassed about the need to perform a test every time they start their vehicle. Most people would prefer to avoid an IID installation requirement if possible. But, sometimes the Pennsylvania courts mandate the installation of an IID in someone’s vehicle.

IIDs are usually a concern for repeat offenders

There are many consequences that the Pennsylvania criminal courts can impose after a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction or guilty plea. License suspension, fines, incarceration and probation are common consequences. Sometimes, before a driver gets their unrestricted license back after a license suspension, they must install an IID in their vehicle. For a set amount of time, usually a year, they may only drive vehicles with such devices installed.

First-time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania usually do not need to worry about installing an IID and performing a breath test whenever they drive. However, repeat DUI offenders often need to install IIDs in their vehicles. A second DUI offense in Pennsylvania usually leads to a 12-month license suspension followed by a one-year IID requirement. A third DUI could result in up to 18 months without a driver’s license followed by another year with an IID installed in the vehicle.

While it is another expense and a potential source of embarrassment, an IID also helps establish a history of safe driving habits that can help someone regain their full, unrestricted driving privileges. Otherwise, people must avoid repeat DUI offenses to preserve their driving privileges. Fighting back against a pending DUI charge in Pennsylvania is one of the only ways to ensure that someone with a prior conviction can avoid an IID requirement altogether.