Florida law and ignition interlock devices: What you need to know.

DUI convictions in Florida can come with harsh consequences. In some cases, this can include a required installation of an ignition interlock device.

Getting charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) crime in Florida is no laughing matter. Depending on the details surrounding the charges, penalties can include steep monetary fines, loss of a driver's license, imprisonment and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock system.

Florida law and ignition interlock devices

State law requires the installation of an ignition interlock device on vehicles for certain DUI offenses. Examples include a second DUI conviction, offenses with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher and those who are driving under the influence of alcohol with a minor in the vehicle.

A first conviction with a 0.15 or more leads to a required six month ignition interlock installation, a second offense leads to one year and a third offense leads to two years. The installation, maintenance and all other expenses must be covered by the driver.

In order to understand how much these devices can cost, it is helpful to understand the basics behind how they work. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides three vendors that can install the device: Guardian Interlock, Smart Start and ALCOLOCK. The device is installed in the vehicle, hardwired into the car's ignition. In order to start the vehicle, the driver will have to provide a breath sample. The driver provides this by blowing into a fairly small, handheld sensor unit. The breath is then measured for alcohol content. If the breath sample analysis leads to a reading of 0.025 or higher, the vehicle will not start.

In some cases, a device will also conduct a rolling retest. For a rolling retest, the device will request an additional sample after a certain interval of time, generally somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes. The driver must then provide another sample. This test is intended to ensure that the driver provides the sample, and not another individual.

The device gathers data, which is generally downloaded and checked on a monthly basis. Ignition interlock devices can also transmit the data to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and provide reports online. This information is then used to help determine if the driver met his or her ignition interlock device obligations.

The cost of installation can vary, but averages $70 with a range of $50 to $200. Monthly maintenance fees are also generally required, and generally average just under $70 but can range $50 to $100.

Legal counsel can help

Ignition interlock devices are just one of the many penalties connected to a DUI conviction. A ticket does not automatically translate to a conviction. Defenses are available. Contact Stan Peacock, an experienced Panama City DUI defense attorney to discuss your options and better ensure your rights are protected.