Texas is one of the few states without a mandatory Ignition Interlock Device (a/k/a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device). However, these gadgets are very important in many DWIs.
The first primitive IIDs appeared in the late 1960s. By the late 1980s, a few crude ones were commercially available. By the late 1990s, second-generation IIDs were in the mainstream, and the government developed standards for evaluating these devices.
The latest IIDs usually include a small camera in addition to the BAC mechanism. This camera snaps a picture of the person who blows into the machine. So, probation officers and others know for sure that the defendant, and not a stand-in, provided the sample.
How They Work
An IID is basically a mini-Breathalyzer which is connected to the vehicle ignition. Before starting the vehicle, the driver must blow into a tube. If the BAC level exceeds a certain threshold – usually .04 – the vehicle will not start. While driving, the driver must provide rolling samples. If there are too many rolling refusals, or a rolling failure, the vehicle will not re-start.
Advocacy groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are enamored with IIDs. If these organizations had their way, a DWI arrest would mean a long-term IID requirement. But these gadgets have some problems.
First, they are basically scarlet A’s. Everyone who gets into the car immediately knows that the driver is a defendant in a DWI case. This drawback is especially a problem if the defendant uses the car for work. Second, many families share cars. If Mom is arrested for DWI, there’s no reason for Dad and any teenage drivers to blow into IIDs. They are a blatant invasion of privacy. Third, it’s usually not against the law to drive with a .04 BAC.
Despite these serious drawbacks, IIDs are here to stay, especially in certain situations.
The lack of an IID law does not limit device usage. In fact, it expands usage. Officials can order IIDs in a number of different contexts, including:
· Bail: The IID is a useful tool for criminal defense attorneys in bail reduction hearings. If the judge is reluctant to grant pretrial release, an IID is a good way to ensure public safety.
· Occupational Drivers’ License: As a condition of a post-arrest or post-conviction ODL, many judges order IIDs.
· Probation: Some courts require IIDs for the entire period of probation. An attorney can often successfully negotiate for something less. For example, the IID must be in place for three months, and the defendant can remove it if there are few or no failures during that time.
In addition to the physical requirements, IIDs are not free. Installation and de-installation usually runs about $100 per incident, there is a monthly monitoring fee, and a monthly maintenance appointment.
Although there is no requirement, most alcohol-related offenses involve Ignition Interlock Devices. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Mr. Herreth is a former prosecutor who now works for you.