One possible consequence of a DUI conviction (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio) is the court-ordered use of an ignition interlock device. What is an ignition interlock device? When does Ohio law require its use? How does one obtain an ignition interlock? This article answers those questions.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a hand-held breath-testing device connected to a vehicle’s ignition system. Before starting the vehicle, the driver must blow a breath sample into the mouthpiece of the IID. The IID uses fuel cell technology to measure the concentration of alcohol in the breath sample. If the breath alcohol concentration exceeds a pre-determined threshold (e.g., .02), the device interrupts the electrical signal from the ignition to the starter and prevents the engine from starting. Data from the device’s memory is uploaded to a database and may be provided to the court.
An IID may also be programmed to require a ‘rolling retest’. If so, the device will periodically require the driver to provide a breath sample while the vehicle is being driven. If the breath alcohol concentration exceeds the threshold, the device prompts the driver to pull over and stop. The prompts may include flashing lights and a honking horn until the vehicle is turned off.
Ohio Law for Ignition Interlock Devices
For a second or third OVI conviction within ten years, if the defendant wants limited driving privileges, the use of an ignition interlock device is a mandatory condition of the driving privileges. For a first OVI conviction within ten years, ignition interlock is not mandatory, but judges may order their use as a condition of driving privileges. Judges also have the discretion to order interlock use for driving privileges on Administrative License Suspensions; when a person has been charged with OVI but has not been convicted.
For a first offense within ten years, an IID may also be ordered as a condition of unlimited driving privileges. In 2017, Ohio passed a bill called ‘Annie’s Law’. That law increased the length of driver license suspensions for OVI convictions and increased the ‘lookback period’ for enhancing penalties (from six years to ten years). Annie’s Law also introduced ‘unlimited driving privileges’, for first offenses, conditioned on the use of an ignition interlock device. For those first-offenders who elect to have unlimited driving privileges, violations of an ignition interlock order can lead to longer license suspensions, secure continuous alcohol monitoring (SCRAM), and a jail term.
Obtaining Ignition Interlock Devices in Ohio
A person ordered to use an interlock device as a condition of driving privileges must obtain the device from an approved private provider. A list of approved providers is available on the website of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The provider charges and installation fee and a monthly monitoring fee. After the IID is installed, the person takes proof of installation to the court, and the court issues driving privileges. The driving privileges are only valid if the person is driving a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.
Interlock Use Is Increasing
The passage of Annie’s Law significantly increased the use of ignition interlock devices in Ohio. First-offenders are given a strong incentive to use the devices, and the devices are a mandatory condition of limited driving privileges for second and third offenses. Ohio’s increased use is consistent with the national, and world-wide, trend. A report by Coherent Market Insights suggests ignition interlock devices in North America will be a $68.5 billion industry by 2027.
About the Author: Shawn Dominy is a leading DUI lawyer in Ohio and the founder of the Dominy Law Firm in Columbus, Ohio. He can be reached through his law firm’s website: Dominy Law Firm.