What Triggers Ignition Interlock Requirements in South Carolina and Georgia?

February 09, 2023

Why Are Ignition Interlock Devices Used by States?

Being charged with a DUI can lead to severe consequences for drivers, including costly fines, jail time, and license suspension or revocation. Many depend on driving their vehicles to work, college, family activities, and more. Unfortunately, losing the ability to drive can be financially disastrous and socially isolating for most people.

For these reasons, US states have started requiring some individuals convicted of DUIs to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles. The device prevents that person from committing a repeat drunk driving offense while still letting them use their car for transportation. Depending on the circumstances, an IID may be required after a mandatory license suspension or may even be used in place of a suspension.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can clarify when these devices may be required in South Carolina and Georgia. While an IID can allow you to continue driving, it is also critical to understand the costs and responsibilities involved and whether you have other options in your case. If you have questions or concerns about ignition interlock requirements, don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm today.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is essentially a small breathalyzer wired into a vehicle’s ignition system. To start the car, the owner must blow into the machine and register a blood alcohol content below the allowed threshold. If there is alcohol in the breath sample provided, the car will not start. To prevent another individual from taking the test on behalf of the vehicle’s owner, the IID often is paired with a camera to record images of who is taking the test.

Some models also require what is known as a rolling test, where the device randomly alerts the user to blow into the analyzer while they are driving. The device cannot turn off the vehicle, but it will record if the driver ignored or failed the test. The device also checks for tampering and will record if attempts are made to disable it. The results from the IID are monitored. Consequences can result from failed tests or tampering, including an extension of enrollment in the IID program, a required substance abuse assessment, mandatory treatment, education courses, and more.

How Much Do Ignition Interlock Devices Cost?

If you are ordered to install an IID, it will be at your own expense. An approved mechanic must install the device, and the exact installation price depends on the make and model of your car. Typically, it is anywhere from $70 to $200.

Because you only need the device for a set amount of time, you will enroll in a rental program for the IID. This program includes monitoring services and requires you to calibrate the device monthly to ensure it is functioning correctly and has not been tampered with. These rental programs range from $60-$100 per month, depending on the device, meaning that the cost of an IID can add up quickly.

Some programs are available to offset the costs of an IID if you cannot afford it. For example, in South Carolina, you can fill out an Affidavit of Indigency to apply for financial assistance for your IID. A helpful DUI defense lawyer can assist you if you have questions about paying for your device.

When Could You Be Required to Install an Ignition Interlock in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires mandatory enrollment in the state’s Ignition Interlock Program for anyone convicted of:

  • A first-offense DUI or DUAC who blew a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.15%
  • A second or subsequent DUI or DUAC offense.
  • A felony DUI
  • A DUI or DUAC with child endangerment charges.

The length of time the IID must be installed is based on the violation. It can range from six months for a first-time DUI offense to a potential lifetime requirement for those with four or more DUI convictions.

What Are the Laws for Ignition Interlock Devices in Georgia?

Georgia drivers convicted of two or more alcohol-related DUIs within a five-year period are required to have an IID installed in their vehicles. A hard license suspension period of 120 days must elapse, and a certified DUI risk reduction program must be completed before the individual can apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited Driving Permit. An IID may also be required for other offenses at the court’s discretion.

Most people with a required IID will be subject to at least twelve months of monitoring. While using a limited driving permit, the driver can only operate their vehicle for necessary reasons, such as going to work or classes, getting medications, reporting to court, and other specified trips.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You?

Having an ignition interlock device installed in your car is expensive and can be a hassle. There’s also the unlikely, yet possible, risk of a false positive reading. While an IID can often be a better alternative than a lengthy license suspension, it is certainly not an ideal situation.

If you are facing a DUI charge in South Carolina or Georgia, it is crucial to have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side who can provide a strong defense and help you avoid life-altering consequences, such as jail time or an ignition interlock device. Call today to speak with a lawyer who is ready to fight for your rights.