What you need to know about ignition interlocks in Texas

With a new interlock bill on the verge of becoming law, Texas drivers charged with DUI may have questions about what it means for them.

A bill that would toughen the penalties for impaired driving in Texas is awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott's signature before it can become law. The measure would expand the state's ignition interlock program to include all drivers convicted of driving under the influence. If you are facing DUI charges in Texas, you may have some questions about ignition interlocks and what to expect if you are ordered to use on in connection to your drunk driving case.

What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock device, or IID, is similar to the Intoxilyzer alcohol testing devices that police use in Texas during DWI traffic stops. However, instead of being portable, an IID is attached to the ignition system and will require the driver to provide a breath sample any time he or she wishes to start the vehicle. If the machine detects that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol, it will not start the car.

Who is required to use an IID?

If the recent legislation passes, Texas law will soon require interlocks for all drivers convicted of DUI or DWI. However, even under existing law, the devices are already required for many people convicted of drunk driving, including:

  • Repeat offenders
  • Highly intoxicated drivers (blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher)
  • Other first-time drunk drivers when ordered by a judge

Under Texas law, you can also be required to use an IID if you refuse to undergo alcohol testing when requested by a police officer during a legal traffic stop. However, despite this and other potential consequences, it may still be in your best interest to refuse a breath test under certain circumstances.

How much does an interlock cost?

If you are ordered to use an IID in Texas, you will be required to pay all of the costs associated with its installation and maintenance. Those costs vary according to the company that provides the device, such as Guardian or Intoxalock, but can cost around $150 to install and about $80 per month for monitoring.

What if I have more than one car?

An ignition interlock requirement generally will apply to every car you own or operate on a regular basis. Therefore, if you have more than one car, you will be required to equip each vehicle with an IID for the duration of the interlock requirement period.

If you are stopped by police on suspicion of DUI, it is important that you take steps to exercise your legal rights in order to protect your long-term interests. The most important step you can take when arrested for DUI is to ask for an attorney and politely but firmly decline to answer any questions until he or she is present. Contac the DUI defense lawyers at Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP for more information.

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