DWIs & Ignition Interlock Devices

June 20, 2022


Any New York driver convicted of driving while intoxicated charge (DWI) can be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. These devices are used to punish DWI offenders and prevent future DWIs. What is an ignition interlock device, then? And when could you be required to install and use one?

DWI ignition interlock device

What Is an Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer attached to your car that will prevent you from driving while impaired or intoxicated. In some DWI/DUI cases, judges may recommend that the convicted driver purchase a breathalyzer, a handheld device used to test someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, in order to prevent future DWIs/DUIs. An interlock device stops the engine from starting when a driver is impaired.

How does this work? The breathalyzer part of the interlock device is typically installed on the dashboard, and the driver must blow into it before being able to start the engine. If the device detects any level of alcohol impairment (not just BAC above the legal limit of 0.08 percent) the vehicle’s engine will not start until a clean sample is given. When required to install and maintain an interlock device, it is not enough that you install one on your vehicle. You are also required to only use vehicles that have interlocks installed. This means that you cannot rent, borrow, or purchase a vehicle without having an interlock device. Some drivers come up with illegal workarounds to continue driving while impaired or intoxicated. For example, some ask passengers to blow into the interlock device.

However, interlock devices periodically require the driver the give samples while the vehicle is in use. If the driver fails to give a clean sample during one of these checks, the vehicle’s alarm will be triggered until either the ignition is turned off or a clean breath sample is given. Any breath sample that detects alcohol will be logged by the device, which could prolong the offender’s penalty requirements. Circumventing interlock devices can result in a one-year jail sentence, on top of the penalties for your DWI. Some examples of circumventing interlock devices include having someone else blow into the device, tampering with or destroying the device, or using a vehicle that does not have an interlock device installed. If you ask someone else to blow into your interlock, both you and that person are subject to criminal charges.

When Could I Be Required to Use an Interlock Device?

New York law requires that every DWI offender install and maintain an interlock device for at least six months. Judges can extend the time period required, and in some cases, require an interlock device before you are convicted of the DWI. Other than a DWI, certain DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charges mandate the use of an interlock device.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, DWAI, or circumventing an interlock device, contact the DWI GUYS immediately. Our experienced DWI attorneys will work closely with you to ensure the best possible defense.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.  Statewide Defense with Corporate offices for The DWI GUYS are located at 231 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY 13202; Telephone No.: 1-800-394-8326.  Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

62/62 Counties Covered.

Serving all of
Upstate NY.

See why no one defends you like us.
Get your free case analysis.
Get your free case analysis.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.