The punishment for driving while impaired (DWI) is not similar in all cases. The punishment for a DWI can be a hefty fine, revocation of your driver’s license and even jail time. The big question that most people ask is, “Can I still drive if I am found guilty of driving while impaired?” The answer in some cases is yes, but in others it is no. If you are subject to an “Alcohol Content Restriction” (ACR) because you had a DWI with a blood or Breath result of .15 or greater, then the rules are different than if you have an interlock requirement because you are on a “Conditional Restoration.” (CR).
What may be a violation for CR may not be a violation for an ACR. Make certain that you speak with a local DWI attorney who is experienced in both of these provisions. Many attorneys who regularly handle DWIs are not familiar with the nuances of litigation administrate violations hearing conducted at the Division of Motor Vehicles. We here at Dummit Fradin have the experience to represent you brilliantly in either an ACR violation or a CR violation.

What happens if I get a false positive, or worse a real reading of alcohol on the device?

While the two different companies (Smart Start and Monitech) have different technology, and different device procedures, both follow the North Carolina DMV requirements. There several different settings on the device depending upon whether you have an “Alcohol Content Restriction” (ACR) or a “Conditional Restoration.” (CR).
At the 60-day download (when you take your vehicle in and get the memory chip in the device download, the company with ask you to comment on any failed reading. It is best if you talk with an attorney before writing out a statement which WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU LATER. So if you get any type of fail, or false reading immediately speak to an experienced Interlock attorney.
Then at the download explain exactly what the false reading was, and what you believe caused it. If you do not know… say you do not know, but DO NOT GUESS OR SPECULATE!
Always make certain that you stay with the car and get a valid reading after a false positive. If you give up and leave your car, the DMV will treat this as a fail rather than a false positive.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and how does it work?

An Ignition Interlock is a small breath analyzer that is connected to your car’s Ignition System. You must blow into the Ignition Interlock Device each time before the car will start. If alcohol is detected on your breath the Ignition Interlock System will prevent the car from starting. For drivers with a Conditional Restoration agreement which requires the interlock this is a violation in and of itself. For other drivers only subject to an “Alcohol Content Restriction” (ACR) it is not a violation. Even if you blow into the device with no alcohol, it many times gives a false reading based upon breath contaminants. If the breath contaminants get reported as alcohol, you need an experience Ignition Interlock Attorney ready to defend your right to drive.
The fundamentals behind the Ignition Interlock are sound in principle. It is one way to give drivers a chance to drive when they may otherwise be prohibited based upon DWI convictions. But in practice, the technology just is not what it needs to be yet. There are many false readings which could result in a Hearing at the DMV, and the possible loss of your right to drive. The interlock system does give an individual with a history of DWI the ability to drive, but at a heavy financial cost, and it comes with the risk of losing your driving privilege if you get false readings.
The Ignition Interlock System records each time that there is any attempt to start the car. These logs are downloaded from the device every 60 days when you take your car in for mandatory service every two months. Once the Interlock company (Smart State or Monitech) have downloaded the data from your car, it is wired to the DMV.

So how does the process work for an individual who got a DWI from conviction to installation of an Ignition Interlock System?

If you are convicted for a DWI the first thing to take place will be your sentencing. A judge will give you a sentence including fines, revocation of your driver’s license and/or possible jail time. If during sentencing the State proves beyond a reasonable doubt that your breath or blood alcohol content is at or above a .15 then the court must impose High Risk Interlock Privileges.
If the State proves the .15 alcohol reading, then the judge cannot give you limited driving privileges for 45 days. That means 45 days with no driving at all. While you are not able to drive at all for 45 days, you must get the Ignition Interlock installed by either Smart Start or Monitech. After the 45 days, and with an interlock installed, your DWI attorney can get very restrictive driving privileges for work or school. You will have an Alcohol Content Restriction (ACR) for one year. Even if you do not get a limited Driving privilege, and wait the full year, you will still have to get an interlock installed after the year and drive with no Interlock Violations for a full year. There is no avoiding it (unless you have a great DWI attorney and you are able to prevent the State from proving the aggravation factor of .15 at sentencing.
How can the Ignition Interlock System be beneficial?
While it is hard to find a benefit in dealing with the Ignition Interlock device, you must remember that the benefit is that you are allowed to be driving at all. It is a pain, but contact your state legislature if you want this changed. In the meantime, remember the benefit is being able to drive when you may not get any privileges otherwise.

Can I drive another car that does not have the Ignition Interlock System installed?

No, the purpose of the Ignition Interlock System is to insure that before you can start a car that you have not consumed any alcohol. The Ignition Interlock System serves a clear purpose of tracking a driver behavior by insuring he or she has not been driving before he or she can get behind wheel and drive.

What is the purpose of the Ignition Interlock System?

Prior to the Ignition Interlock being developed, it was very difficult to get a condition restoration of your driving privilege after multiple DWIs. While having to deal with the malfunctions and false reading on the Ignition Interlock can be a very painful process, and can feel like punishment, the long term purpose is public safety. The Ignition Interlock System prevents a driver that has consumed alcohol from starting their car and keeps them off the road if they attempt to drive.