One of the more recent devices that aids in preventing drinking and driving is the ignition interlock system. If a Minnesota court has convicted you of driving while impaired by alcohol, the judge may have ordered you to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle. This outcome is especially likely if this is not your first conviction or if your blood alcohol concentration was significantly higher than the legal limit.
Ignition interlock is often a requirement for regaining your driver’s license after its revocation. Since you may have to deal with this device for several months or even years, you must understand how it works and what you must do to comply with the court’s orders.
How does it work?
The ignition interlock connects to your vehicle’s starter system and attaches to a handheld mouthpiece. Before your vehicle starts, you must blow into the mouthpiece so it can register whether you have alcohol in your system. If your BAC is less than .02, about one drink, your vehicle will start. If your BAC registers higher than .02, you will not be able to start your vehicle. After several failures within a certain time period, the device will lock down your vehicle’s ignition, and you must contact a technician.
As you drive, the system will alert you to provide random breath samples, which are rolling tests. Failing or ignoring the rolling test can mean serious trouble. The device will record this as a failed test. Depending on the terms of your probation, you may face penalties after a certain number of failed tests, such as the revocation of your license or an extension of your ignition interlock requirements.
Your IID is watching you
You may not be in jail, but the ignition interlock system is tracking you in several ways. Each time you submit a breath sample, the device records the date and time as well as the results of the test. These reports go to your probation officer or whatever agency is overseeing your program. In Minnesota, you may also have a camera attached to your device. This is to prevent drivers who have been drinking from allowing their sober passengers from submitting samples. The system may also include a GPS.
Keeping your ignition interlock system updated and calibrated is essential to receiving accurate test readings. You will probably have to return to the interlock provider once a month for this service. Failing to do so may result in another violation. Additionally, tampering with the device in any way or trying to bypass its requirements can have costly consequences. As you can see, an ignition interlock may help you get back on the road, but it does not allow you to put your past behind you just yet.