Interlock Intervention: Everything You Need To Know About San Francisco’s Latest DUI Deterrent
This article will help you understand:
- When Ignition Interlock devices are required after a DUI arrest in San Francisco.
- How and why Ignition Interlock companies will try to manipulate you.
- How long you will need to have your Ignition Interlock device in California.
What Is An Ignition Interlock Device Or IID?
Ignition Interlock devices are a (relatively) new phenomenon in California’s fight against drunk driving. It is one of many options or conditions offered to San Francisco drivers after receiving a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction.
The device will impede the car or vehicle’s ignition until the driver blows into it, acting as a breathalyzer. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start – it’s as simple as that.
These devices seem convenient, as they allow drivers to continue using their vehicles after a DUI. In practice, however, they are not always well-understood or well-serviced by the companies that too often bombard DUI-charged drivers with misleading offers.
Is An Ignition Interlock Device Required After A DUI Arrest In San Francisco?
When you get arrested for a DUI in San Francisco or any Bay Area county, you do not need to get an ignition interlock device immediately. This is a fact that you might not realize if you go by the mountain of ads, brochures, and letters in the mail that Ignition Interlock Device (IID) companies so often send after a DUI arrest. Feel free to toss those in the recycling.
The truth is, after you are arrested for a DUI, you have 10 days to request an administrative per se hearing at the DMV. This hearing will extend the 30-day temporary license that you are given upon arrest to last for a period of several months until the DMV hearing or DUI court case is over.
Notice that so far, no mention has been made of ignition interlock device requirements whatsoever. While all this is going on, you are already driving. No restrictions, work-only limits, or interlock devices are needed until you are actually convicted. Only if you are convicted of a DUI in court, or if you lose your administrative hearing with DMV, would you need to deal with some type of license suspension.
When Would I Need An Ignition Interlock Device After A DUI Arrest?
If you lose your per se hearing at the DMV or are convicted of DUI in court, you will face license suspension. Typically, the period of suspension lasts for four to six months, depending on which entity requires it. The DMV on its own usually imposes a four-month-long suspension, while the court typically imposes six months.
In some cases, the suspension, and thus the duration of the IID, will be longer than six months. For example, if you refuse to take a chemical or blood test after your arrest, the refusal suspension from the DMV is usually 12 months. Additionally, if your blood alcohol level in your was exceptionally high at the time of arrest or if you have a longer DUI school program, you might need an ignition interlock device for a longer period of time.
In any case, this means that for at least four to six months, you’ll either be restricted from driving altogether, or you’ll be restricted to driving a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device installed. This is when you will want or need the IID, as the device will allow you to keep driving for the duration of your suspension.
Are There Any Options Besides Not Driving Or Driving With An Ignition Interlock Device After A DUI?
After a first-time DUI offense, the only other option you have besides not driving or having an ignition interlock device on your car is getting a work-restricted license. Such a restriction requires that you go one month without driving at all, followed by 12 months of only driving to and from work and other work-related driving.
Some people choose this option, though a skilled attorney may be able to help reduce the suspension to a shorter period of restriction.
When Is An Ignition Interlock Device Required Or Available In The San Francisco Bay Area?
Ignition interlock devices, IIDs, are required when your license has been suspended because of a court DUI conviction or a DMV administrative hearing suspension.
To get one, you need to:
- Be enrolled in a DUI school,
- Obtain SR-22 insurance (different from your regular auto insurance),
- Have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle,
- Pay a reissue fee at the DMV.
IID devices are typically only required at the end of a case — after you are convicted of a DUI or if you do not win your administrative hearing – so you don’t need to get one right away after you get arrested.
Some cases, however, are more serious, and this can complicate the process of receiving a suspension with IID. Issues that can complicate your ability to use an IID in the San Francisco Area can include:
- DUI accidents,
- Injuries or property damage,
- Multiple offenses,
- Having kids in the car,
- Exceptionally high alcohol levels,
- Prior DUIs,
- Exceptionally bad driving,
- Dangerous speeding,
- Combinations of any of the above,
- And more…
These cases will always be more complex than just being barely over the legal BAC limit or getting arrested for a DUI for the first time. In these more dangerous and difficult cases, getting an interlock device before the hearing or court case can help you avoid worse outcomes.
Is It A Good Idea To Get An Ignition Interlock Device Before My Court Case Or DMV Hearing?
In some counties in the San Francisco Bay area, a smart attorney may advise getting an ignition interlock device put on your car ahead of time, as this can look proactive and responsible to the judge when you go to court. This tactic can also prove to be easier than other court-ordered alternatives like, for example, an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to install an IID to avoid having an ankle monitor put on and being stuck wearing it for months, (or sometimes longer), while your case is going on. If you put an interlock device on early, then maybe the judge will see that you are being proactive.
Additional steps to help in such cases can include: getting enrolled in DUI school, going to AA meetings, and getting therapy. If you follow all these self-help steps, it can show the court that you are serious about not re-offending – which is ultimately what the court is most worried about.
Is Getting An Ignition Interlock Device Better Than An Alcohol Ankle Monitoring Device?
An ankle monitor is the court’s way of trying to guarantee you are not drinking at all. They know that you are not going to be drinking and driving because you are wearing an alcohol monitor – and that you will go to jail if you violate the conditions of release.
Just putting an IID on a car will not give the court the same sense of security – you could technically drive any car you want that doesn’t have an IID on it. So even If you have an IID on your vehicle, the court is not protected, and more importantly, the public is not protected in the courts’ eyes. For them, the ankle bracelet is a much more effective means to protect society.
In some cases, the proactiveness of getting an interlock early will convince a number of judges that you are doing enough – making it more likely that they would not require you to wear the ankle bracelet.
Alcohol monitoring bracelets are not fun or easy. You cannot bathe in them, cannot go in a pool, and there are a lot of other restrictions associated with them. These are extreme situations – but in most cases, an experienced DUI lawyer can help minimize the amount of time you would need with either type of device.
Will I Have To Have An Ignition Interlock Device Installed In My Car As Part Of My DUI Probation In The San Francisco Bay Area?
On a first DUI offense, in most cases, you will not be required to get an ignition interlock device installed for your probation – though it might be one of the available options.
If you get convicted of a first-time DUI, however, your driver’s license will typically be suspended for four to six months. During this time, you can choose to not drive at all, get a work-restricted license (one month of no driving followed by 12 months of work-restricted driving), or, have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.
On a multiple-offense DUI, however, your only option for driving would be with an ignition interlock device for a minimum of one year for most counties in San Francisco. It is something that most people do so that they can keep driving even after multiple offenses.
Even still, some situations can disqualify you from the option to use an IID, such as: if you refuse to take the chemical test and if you don’t win your hearing with the DMV, or if you refuse to take the chemical test and are convicted of DUI in court. These could potentially trigger a full year of no driving whatsoever.
How Long Will I Need To Have An Ignition Interlock Device Installed In My Vehicle After A DUI In The San Francisco Bay Area?
If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI in court, you’ll typically be required to drive with an IID for six months. If it is a DMV-imposed suspension, and the DUI charges are reduced or you win your court case, then you will usually only face four months of IID-restricted driving.
However, if you have a blood alcohol level above .20% or you have to complete a nine-month DUI school program, you are going to need the interlock installed at least until you finish DUI school. In these cases, it might even be a good idea to get started on the DUI school early if it looks like you are going to end up getting suspended. A good DUI lawyer can help you make that evaluation and decision.
If you are convicted of multiple offenses, you are looking at a minimum of a year and you will not get your full license back until you’re done with the DUI school. This could mean potentially 18 months of having the ignition interlock device on until you can get your full license back.
It is all about timing and that is why it is crucial to talk with the best DUI lawyer you can find. You want to get the best advice you can from an attorney who does nothing but DUIs and deals with these laws, devices, companies, and hearings all day every day. Someone who can give you the correct answers.
For more information on Ignition Interlock Device Requirements In CA, a free initial consultation is your best first step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.
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