Ohio OVI Law: Ignition Interlock Devices FAQ

2004 model of an ignition-interlock breath ana...

Q. What is the law?

Ohio's Ignition Interlock Device Law is set forth at Ohio Revised Code 4501.45(E), which states: “Ignition interlock device” means a device certified by the director that connects a breath analyzer to a motor vehicle’s ignition system, that is constantly available to monitor the concentration by weight of alcohol in the breath of any person attempting to start the motor vehicle by using its ignition system, and that deters starting the motor vehicle by use of its ignition system unless the person attempting to start the vehicle provides an appropriate breath sample for the device and the device determines that the concentration by weight of alcohol in the person’s breath is below a preset level.

Q. What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

In 1982, Ohio declared war on drunk drivers.  Aiding them in this effort were various industry and advocacy groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  One of their most important and high-profile legislative efforts has been the adoption of breathalyzer devices placed in an offender's car which will prevent operation of the car by a person having over a set B.A.C. (blood alcohol concentration).  Often referred to as "Blow to Go," the ignition interlock system includes a device and software that registers and records readings of blood-alcohol content for each required breath test, the first of which is required prior to starting your car’s engine. Subsequent tests are required while driving; called ‘rolling tests’.  The ignition interlock system is intrusive, expensive and must receive regular maintenance.

Q. How does it work?

The ignition interlock device is about the size of a typical cell phone which includes two main components that are hard-wired to your car’s ignition together; the programmed base unit and the breath sampler. The programmed base unit is most often mounted inside your glove box and out of view. The breath sampler component is mounted atop your car’s dashboard or conveniently integrated with your steering column.  Before starting your car, you will be required to provide a 1.5 liter of breath sample.  If the car breathalyzer detects a level within its programmed range, you can immediately start your vehicle and go about your business. If your blood-alcohol level is over the programmed reading, you will not be able to start your vehicle but you can do another test within approximately 15 minutes.  You will also be subjected to "rolling tests" to prevent consumption of alcohol subsequent to getting the car started.  Be aware; if you pull over to conduct the breath test and fail, you may be stranded at the location.  It is also important to understand that your car will not automatically shut down upon a failed test.

Q. How sensitive is the Ignition Interlock Device?

The device is set at a .02 blood alcohol content (BAC) level, which is extremely low.  With the low .02 BAC level, it is entirely possible that you could set off the ignition interlock in the morning after you have been drinking heavily.

Q.  Can alcohol-based perfumes or colognes cause a false reading?

Yes.  Failed tests have been recorded from high concentration alcohol-based fragrances.  False positives have also been recorded when a person uses a mouthwash containing 30% alcohol.

Q. Is an Interlock Ignition Device Mandatory?

The device is not mandatory on a first offense OVI in Ohio.  Judges have discretion to require the ignition interlock device on first offenses, but on subsequent offenses the IID is mandatory.  It is important to speak with an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the Court/judge presiding over your case to get an idea of whether or not you will likely receive an ignition interlock device on a first offense.  Be sure to talk with your attorney about aggravating factors in your case.  Be aware that MADD is pushing for the requirement that all first-time DUI offenders must use an ignition interlock device in order to get the car to start.  MADD is seeking to implement this mandate in the same way it coerced the states’ into adoption of a .08 alcohol standard, which is to tie the ignition interlock to receiving highway funds.  The language stipulates that if states want about 5 percent of their regularly allocated safety money, they must enact a law that requires first-time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device if they want to continue driving.  By seeking implementation in this way, MADD can avoid fights in more driver-friendly state legislatures.  Given the long history of pandering to MADD, this commentator is not hopeful of a pro-driver outcome.

Q. What happens if I do not pass?

Judges in Ohio have a great deal of discretion in granting and denying driving privileges.  Many judges rely on their probation department to monitor drivers on an ignition interlock device.  If the probation officer receives notification that a driver has failed he or she may immediately move to revoke driving privileges.  Some judges may automatically revoke privileges upon a failure.  Evidence of failure may also be a violation of the probation terms and conditions.  It is important that your attorney be available to fight for you if you receive a false positive or fail a required IID breath test.

Q. Is MADD pushing for Ignition Interlock Devices in all cars?

MADD has been working with major insurance companies and automobile manufacturers to get a passive alcohol system (called DADDS) as mandated equipment in every automobile in the world.  In 2008, at MADD’s urging, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety entered into a $10 million agreement with the federal government to develop such a technology. This system would  search every driver (not just convicted DUI offenders) every single time they started their car.  This year, MADD’s power as one of the nation’s leading lobbying groups resulted in a provision in the Senate transportation bill to ““more widespread deployment of in-vehicle technology” that would prevent drunken driving.  The research will be carried out by the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, a collaboration between NHTSA and the automobile industry.

Q. What Ignition Interlock Devices has Ohio approved?

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety the following companies and devices have been approved for use in Ohio.

  • #1A LifeSafer FC 100 (#1A LifeSafer)
  • ADS Determinator 2 (Alcohol Detection Systems, Inc.)
  • AMS 2000 (Guardian Interlock Systems, Inc.)
  •  DM-904 (Alcohol Detection Systems, Inc.)
  • Draeger XT (Draeger Safety Diagnostics, Inc.)
  • FR9000 (B.E.S.T. Labs, Inc.)
  • Intoxalock Model 1001-A (Consumer Safety Technology (CST))
  • SSI-1000/SSI-20/20 /SSI-20/30  (1A Smart Start, Inc.)
  • WR2  (Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp.)

Q. Where do I get the IID installed?

The Ohio Department of Public Safety lists the locations and companies that provide installation services for the ignition interlock device.  Go HERE to see a location near you that can install the IID.

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