New law requires first-time DUI offenders to use interlock devices

Following this year’s legislative session, a number of new state laws went into effect July 1, including Public Act 14-228, which authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to require the installation of ignition interlock devices in cars of first-time DUI offenders.

Prior to this change in the law, the DMV did not require an interlock device following a license suspension, although the devices were already mandated following a court conviction for operating under the influence (OUI).

According to the DMV, studies have shown that interlock device programs, “as compared to traditional sanctions,” reduce re-arrest rates by 65%.

An ignition interlock is a device that gets wired into the ignition system of a vehicle and requires a convicted driver to provide a breath sample in order to start the vehicle.

If his or her breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or over the device’s preset level of 0.025, the vehicle will not start and a fail will be noted in the device’s memory. (The legal limit is 0.08.)

The device will lock out for a few minutes for the first failed breath test and then allow the driver to try again.

There is a longer lock-out period for the subsequent BAC test, according to the DMV, to “allow alcohol to dissipate from the mouth and for the licensee to realize the reason for the failed BAC test.”

Even after the car is started, drivers will be required to submit additional samples at random while driving.

IID program

Individuals who have had their driver’s license suspended by the DMV as a result of being charged with an OUI must now participate in the DMV’s Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program in order to get their license back.

Completion of an Ignition Interlock Device Installation Application (Form P-246) is required for the program. The first part of the form must be filled out by the individual applying for the program and the second part by a Connecticut-approved IID vendor upon installation of the interlock device.

Once all the program requirements are met and a person’s license suspension time has been served, the license will be reinstated with an ignition interlock requirement, according to the DMV, and the vehicle may only be operated equipped with an interlock device for the duration required.

The length of time a driver must use the device will depend on whether they are 21 or older at the time of the offense, whether they are repeat offenders and whether they failed a blood alcohol test or refused to take the test at the time of their arrest.

Cost and maintenance

Connecticut’s new law requires interlock devices be installed on all vehicles owned or operated by a person arrested for driving under the influence.

In addition to paying a $175 statutorily required restoration fee and $100 administration fee to the DMV, the offender is responsible for all costs and fees associated with installing and maintaining the device, none of which may be waived by the court.

Among the Connecticut-approved IID vendors listed on the DMV website, installation costs range from free to $75, and leasing fees from $65 to $85 per month. Some vendors charge additional fees — LifeSafer Inc., for example, has a $90 fee to remove the interlock device after the leasing period.

Under Connecticut law, each vehicle equipped with an interlock device must be brought to the installer every 30 days for calibration.

Failure to calibrate will cause the device to “lock out the vehicle” and also result in “the suspension of the driver’s license for failure to comply with the terms of the IID Program,” according to the DMV.

Penalties and violations

If an IID participant violates the program, time will be added to his or her interlock device requirement, and criminal charges may result if they:

• Drive a vehicle without an approved interlock device.

• Disable or tamper with the device.

• Remove the device.

• Have someone else blow into the device.

To learn more about the DMV’s IID Program, visit: 1.usa.gov/1LIk4PW.

To read Public Act No. 14-228, visit: 1.usa.gov/1KyBQpk.

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