Questions Answered About an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
We at Greg Hill & Associates understand that an ignition interlock device (I.I.D.) is a mysterious and often misunderstood device. The requirements surrounding its installation, use and maintenance are also clouded in myths and many anecdotal inaccuracies. Therefore, to hopefully clear up the confusion once and for all, we prepared the following memorandum.
What One Should Learn from This Article: The ignition interlock device is a necessary hurdle one must clear to have their California driver’s license returned, with some exceptions. Many people have tried to trick the device so they can continue drinking and driving. Read about the nuances and details of the IID here.
1. What is an IID?
An IID is a device slightly larger than a cell phone that is wired to a vehicle’s ignition that requires a breath sample from the driver before the engine will start. If the device detects alcohol on the breath, the engine will not start.
The device can be installed in a vehicle while you wait and after installation, it requires your breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the engine will not start.
As you drive, you are periodically required to provide breath samples to ensure the continued absence of alcohol in your system.
2. What is the purpose of the IID pilot program?
The intent of the law is to reduce the number of driving under the influence (DUI) offenses and provide the DMV with data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of an IID in reducing DUI’s.
3. How do I know if I need to install an IID?
The DMV automatically mails an Order of Suspension or Revocation notice along with a DUI IID Insert or an Order of Installment of an Ignition Interlock Device when the department receives notification of a conviction for a DUI violation under California Vehicle Code (CVC) §§ 23152 or 23153 or Penal Code (PC) § 191.5(b) which occurred in one of the pilot counties on or after July 1, 2010. The notice provides you with information about the IID pilot program and driver license reinstatement requirements.
Los Angeles County is one of the pilot counties.
4. I was convicted of a “wet/reckless” offense. Will I be required to install an IID to get my driver license back?
No. A “wet/reckless” is a violation under CVC § 23103.5 and does not require IID installation; only violations under CVC §§ 23152 or 23153 or PC §191.5(b) that occurred in one of the four pilot counties on or after July 1, 2010, are subject to the new law. However, the “wet/reckless” conviction will count towards enhanced penalties for any future DUI-related convictions.
5. I drive a motorcycle. Will I need to get an IID for my motorcycle?
6. This is my first DUI conviction. Is the IID installation only for multiple offenders?
No. The pilot program requires all DUI offenders, including first offenders, to install an IID if the violation and conviction occurs in one of the four pilot counties from July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2015.
7. How long will I have to maintain an IID?
The term of the DMV-ordered IID restriction period is based on the initial DUI offense and the number of DUI-related offenses you have within the prior 10 years. Specific IID installation terms are as follows.
A conviction under CVC § 23152 requires the following restriction terms:
Number of offenses with… under… IID restriction term
1st - N/A - CVC § 23152 (DUI) - 5 months
2nd - one prior - CVC §§ 23152 or 23153, Harbors and Navigation (H & N) Code § 655 (b-f), PC §§ 191.5, 191.5 (a), 191.5 (b), or 192.5 (a) or an Out-of-State DUI occurring within the prior 10 years - 12 months
3rd - two prior - 24 months
4th & subsequent - three or more prior - 36 months
8. I drive for a living! How does this new law affect my employment?
Any DUI offender in a pilot county who is required to operate a motor vehicle owned by his/her employer during the course of his/her employment, may operate the vehicle without installation of an approved IID, if the employer has been notified that the employee’s driving privilege is restricted pursuant to CVC § 23700.
Upon request, the DMV will provide you with a Notice to Employer (DL 923) form for your employer. You must keep proof of the employer’s notification in your possession or in the vehicle.
9. I have a commercial driver license (CDL). Will I be required to install an IID?
Yes. The new law applies to both commercial and non-commercial drivers. However, commercial drivers are not eligible for any other DUI-related restrictions (to/from/during course of employment and to/from a drinking driver program). Commercial drivers, unless they downgrade to a non-commercial driver license, must serve the full DUI suspension or revocation period, meet all other reinstatement requirements (provide DL 101, SR 22, pay all reinstatement fees), provide the DMV with a DL 924, and pay the $45 ASF before you are eligible to reinstate your driving privilege. The IID restriction:
• allows you to drive personal vehicles equipped with an IID.
• does not allow you to drive:
—any commercial vehicle registered in your name which is not equipped with a certified IID.
—vehicles registered to the employer unless the employer has been provided with a DL 923.
10. Can others besides the participating driver drive the IID-equipped vehicle?
Yes. However any intended driver must take and pass a breath test in order to start the vehicle. All other possible drivers should be trained on the operation of the device. The person with the IID restriction is responsible for all readings recorded by the device.
11. Where can I get an IID installed?
You can get an IID installed by contacting any certified IID installer in California. The list can be obtained by:
• Visiting DMV’s website at
• Calling DMV at 800-777-0133. An agent will mail or fax you a complete list of IID manufacturers. If you cannot wait for the mailed list or do not have access to a fax machine, ask the agent to give you the name and telephone numbers of all IID manufacturers on the list.
• Visiting a field office. The complete list will be printed for you.
12. How much does it cost to install and maintain an IID?
Company Installation Cost Monthly Fee Contact #
Auto Sense International $120 $69.50 + tax 800-325-2656
Guardian $55 $55 + tax 800-499-0994
Lifesaver $25 $75 + tax 800-210-8087
Consumer $134 $65 + tax 877-777-5020
Smart Start $99.95 + tax $74.95 +tax 800-880-3394
Draeger $95 $65 + tax 800-332-6858
Alco $128 $69.80 + tax 888-663-9847
Alcohol Counter Measures $120 $69.50 + tax 877-786-7394
13. I cannot afford to install an IID. Are there any low income programs?
Yes. Under the new law, IID installers in all counties are required to offer pilot program participants reduced-fee IID installations. The IID installation cost will be determined by your family’s income in comparison to the federal poverty guidelines. The guidelines are updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and can be accessed at www.aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/09fedreg.shtml. When installing the device or when calibrating it every 60 days, eligible participants will pay IID installers according to the following fee schedule:
If the offender’s family income is _____ of the federal poverty level, the DUI offender pays percent of the IID cost, and…100 percent or below 10.
The IID provider absorbs the remaining IID cost. 101 to 200 percent 25, 201 to 300 percent 50.
Note: The fee schedule above applies only to offenders whose DUI offense occurred in one of the four pilot counties between July 1, 2010, and December 31, 2015.
14. Can someone use a balloon or other air source on the IID to mimic human breath?
No. The devices currently available have anti-circumvention techniques, which cause the IID to abort phony breath samples.
15. Can a person with an IID restriction have someone else take the breath test for the driver to start the vehicle?
Yes, but not legally. Vehicle Code § 23247 makes it unlawful for another person to blow into an IID or to start a motor vehicle equipped with the device for the purpose of providing an operable motor vehicle to a person whose driving privilege is restricted. If the car was started illegally, the person who started it or another sober individual would have to ride in the vehicle because the unit will randomly ask for a "running retest." If a test is not taken or if the test is failed, the unit will log a violation. With some devices, the horn will honk until the vehicle is turned off. California law imposes fines and/or jail for individuals assisting in the circumvention of the IID.
16. Will the IID unit lose all memory if the battery is disconnected?
No. The unit has a back-up lithium battery to protect the data log's memory.
17. What if the driver is taking a medicine with an alcohol base?
Alcohol is alcohol. If the driver's blood alcohol concentration, as measured in the breath, is over the preset level, the driver will not be allowed to start the vehicle. During the training session, drivers are particularly cautioned about common substances that contain alcohol and the use of mouthwash.
18. What if the driver uses mouthwash in the morning and the mouthwash has an alcohol base?
Again, alcohol is alcohol. If the driver does not allow sufficient time for the alcohol to dissipate from his/her mouth, a FAIL will be registered in the memory.
19. What happens when the IID-equipped vehicle needs repair?
The driver needs to contact the IID service provider before having repairs conducted on his/her vehicle in case the repair shop has questions about the IID. Documentation must be provided if the power to the vehicle is interrupted as the unit will record the power disconnect and the reconnect.
20. If the IID unit malfunctions, will it shut the vehicle off?
No. The IID unit has no means of interrupting vehicle operation once it is started.
21. What happens if the vehicle stalls in traffic?
The IID unit permits the driver to restart the vehicle without having to conduct another breath sample, but a breath sample will be requested shortly after restarting.
22. What happens if the driver is out of California and experiences problems with his/her IID unit?
Most states currently have IID programs with service centers to assist them. Drivers are instructed to contact the primary service center to be routed to the closest center for assistance.
23. Will installation of the IID damage the vehicle?
No. The IID unit is only connected to the wiring under the dash and under the hood. At the end of the program, this wiring is restored to pre-IID installation conditions.
24. Will the requirements to take a "running retest" cause the driver to take his/her eyes off the road creating a hazardous situation?
No. When the IID signals for a retest, the driver has a few minutes to provide the sample or to pull over to the side of the road in a safe area to provide the breath sample. There are no buttons to push; the driver must only breathe into the unit to complete a breath sample. This is much simpler than using a cellular telephone or tuning a state-of-the-art car stereo.
25. How often does the device need a calibration check?
Typically, every 60 days.
26. Can the device be tampered with by computer?
No. Proprietary software and a special interface connection are needed to communicate with the device.
27. What happens when a driver fails the breath test?
The IID will enter a short lockout period of a few minutes for the first failed breath alcohol test and a longer lockout for any subsequent failed breath alcohol test. This permits an opportunity for the alcohol to dissipate from the mouth and for the driver to consider the reason for the failed breath alcohol test.
28. If a driver gets stranded and thinks the IID unit is causing the problem, is there anything he/she can do?
Some units can self-diagnose problems and the driver will be able to confirm if the unit is having problems by the condition of the service light. The driver can also call a service provider to help determine if the unit requires service.
29. Can someone required to have an IID leave his/her car running outside of a bar, while drinking inside, and then drive away?
If someone tries to do this, the unit will randomly ask for breath tests while the vehicle is running. If a sample is not given when requested, the device logs a violation and with some devices, the horn starts to honk until the vehicle is shut off.
30. What are the requirements of the IID pilot program?
The IID pilot program requires all individuals convicted of a DUI in one of four California counties to install an IID on every vehicle they own or drive, provide DMV with a Department of Motor Vehicles Ordered Verification of Ignition Interlock (DL 924) form, pay a $45 administrative service fee (ASF), and meet all other reinstatement requirements before the DMV can reinstate, reissue, or restrict their driver license.
If you do not provide the DMV with a DL 924 or pay the $45 ASF, you will not be able to reinstate your driving privilege. If you drive while suspended or revoked and are stopped by law enforcement, your vehicle may be impounded and you may likely be convicted for driving on a suspended/revoked driver license. The conviction will result in the assessment of two negligent operator points, and your IID restriction term will not begin until you file proof of IID installation. The restriction will not end until you complete the required restriction period.
31. Which four counties are involved in the IID pilot program?
The pilot program includes: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare Counties.
32. I do not live in a pilot county. Does the law apply to me if I get a DUI in a pilot county?
Yes. All offenders who are cited and convicted of a DUI violation in a pilot county are required to install an IID. The pilot is based on the county of citation and conviction, not the offender’s residence address. For example, if you live in Shasta County (non-pilot county), receive a citation for a DUI violation in Los Angeles County (pilot county) and are subsequently convicted— you are required to comply with this law.
If you live in a non-participating county, but were cited and convicted of DUI in an IID pilot county, you do not have to travel to the pilot county to have your IID installed. You can contact a local installer to have your IID installed.
33. What happens if I don’t own a car?
The law allows you to request an exemption from IID installation. The Exemption for Ignition Interlock Device (IID) (DL 4055B) form is included as an insert with all DUI suspension or revocation notices mailed to offenders in the pilot counties. The form must be submitted to a DMV field office or mailed to the Driver Licensing Mandatory Actions Unit (DLMAU) within 30 days of the suspension or revocation notice mail date.
34. I am a first-time DUI offender. When the IID is installed, will I have a restricted driver license such as, to drive to/from work and to an alcohol program?
No. If you are a first-time offender with a conviction under CVC §23152, once the DL 924 is provided, the $45 ASF is paid, and all other reinstatement requirements are met, you are eligible for an IID-restricted license with unlimited driving privileges.
35. I am a first-time DUI offender. What happens to my driver license after the five-month mandatory IID restriction period ends?
At the end of the five-month mandatory IID restriction period, you may have your IID removed by a certified installer. The department will automatically remove the IID restriction from your driving record and impose a restriction that only allows you to drive to/from/during the course of your employment and to/from an alcohol treatment program, until your original DUI suspension period ends and you provide a Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101).
36. What option do I have to continue unlimited driving if I am a first-time DUI offender and have served the five-month mandatory IID restriction period, but still have reinstatement requirements that I have to meet?
You can request an extension of the IID restriction with unlimited driving privileges until your original DUI suspension period ends and you provide a Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101). This requires you to maintain the IID on your vehicle(s). To request an IID restriction extension, you must immediately contact the Driver Licensing Mandatory Actions Unit at (916) 657-6525.
37. Can I install an IID and get unlimited driving privileges if I am a first time DUI offender and received an Administrative Per Se (APS) suspension for the DUI arrest?
If you are a first-time DUI offender convicted under CVC § 23152 and received an APS suspension, you must serve 30 days of the APS suspension before you are eligible to install an IID and obtain an IID-restricted driver license with unlimited driving privileges.
A conviction under CVC § 23152 or PC 191.5 (b) requires the following restriction terms:
Number of offenses with… under… IID restriction term
1st - N/A - CVC § 23153 or PC 191.5 (b) (DUI w/ injury) - 12 months
2nd - one prior - CVC §§ 23152 or 23153, (H & N) Code § 655 (b-f), PC §§ 191.5, 191.5 (a), 191.5 (b), or 192.5 (a) or an Out-of-State DUI occurring within the prior 10 years - 24 months
3rd - two prior - 36 months
4th & subsequent - three or more prior - 48 months
Note: Wet/ reckless convictions of CVC § 23103.5 are not considered a prior conviction when determining IID restriction terms.
38. Why didn’t the court tell me that I needed to install an IID to get my driver license back?
It does not have to give you such a warning. The new law mandates the DMV, not the court, to impose/monitor IID installations.
39. I submitted proof of IID installation to the court; however, the DMV will not give me my driver license back. Why is this?
You or the IID installer, not the court, must provide the DMV with the Department of Motor Vehicles Ordered Verification of Ignition Interlock (DL 924) form. It is important to note that if the court ordered an IID installation, you must also provide the court with the appropriate proof of installation form.
40. I provided the DMV with a DL 924 form, but the DMV will not give me my driver license back. Why?
Before a driver license can be reinstated or reissued, you must meet all reinstatement requirements following a DUI suspension or revocation. This includes serving a specified period of suspension/revocation and providing the DMV with the following:
• Proof of Enrollment Certificate (DL 107) or Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101),
• California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22),
• Department of Motor Vehicles Ordered Verification of Ignition Interlock (DL 924),
• any applicable reinstatement fees, and
• $45 ASF.
Once you comply with all reinstatement requirements, the DMV will restrict you to drive only vehicles equipped with a certified IID (in addition to any other applicable restrictions) until your specified IID restriction ends.
41. What are the maintenance and calibration requirements once an IID is installed?
Pilot program participants must arrange service with the installer for each of the vehicles with an IID at least once every 60 days. When the vehicle is serviced, the installer recalibrates and monitors the operation of the device. Under CVC §23700, an IID installer must notify DMV if the device is removed or if there is evidence that you attempted to remove, bypass, or tamper with the device; or if you fail three or more times to comply with any requirements for the maintenance or calibration of the IID.
42. What happens when the driver forgets his/her service appointment?
The device will prompt the driver. For example, a device may flash or the light may stay on and a tone will sound if it needs service. If the IID is not serviced, all IIDs will enter a lockout condition and the driver will not be able to operate the vehicle. Then, the vehicle would have to be towed to the service center or the service center technician would have to perform remote service.
43. What happens if the installer reports an IID non-compliance to the DMV?
If at anytime during your restriction period (after the DL 924 form has been provided) the DMV receives notification from the installer that you failed to comply with any of the IID requirements, DMV will “pause” the IID restriction. You will not be given credit toward your IID restriction period for any period of time during which you do not have proof of IID installation on file with the DMV. Your IID restriction termination date will be extended each time you fail to comply. A notice will be mailed to you confirming receipt of non-compliance from the IID installer and you will be informed that your IID restriction was paused.
44. How do I go back to an IID restriction after a period of noncompliance?
Following a notice of non-compliance, you must provide a new DL 924 form to DMV. Upon receipt of the new DL 924, DMV will “reset” the IID restriction and impose the remainder of your IID restriction period. You will be notified in writing of your new IID restriction termination date.
45. What are the requirements for an IID exemption approval?
To approve an exemption request, DMV must receive a signed exemption request (DL 4055B) form that certifies under penalty of perjury that you:
• do not own or have access to a vehicle at your residence and
• no longer have access to the vehicle used when the DUI offense occurred.
• The request must also indicate you acknowledge that you are:
1. only allowed to drive a vehicle that has a certified IID installed,
2. required to have a valid driver license before driving, and
3. immediately subject to the IID installation requirements when you purchase or gain access to a vehicle.
The DMV will only approve signed exemption requests that are submitted within 30 days of the suspension or revocation notice mail date. Upon receipt, DMV will verify if you qualify for the exemption and notify you in writing of your eligibility.
If the exemption is granted, an IID restriction will still be imposed on your driving record but the $45 ASF payment will not be required.
46. Why was an IID restriction placed on my driver license when I was approved for an exemption?
When you submitted the exemption form DL 4055B for approval, you agreed to drive a vehicle that has a properly installed IID.
47. I own a car that is not currently running. Can I still get an exemption?
No. You do not qualify for an exemption if you own a vehicle(s) that does not run or has an approved planned non-operation (PNO) on file.
48. What happens if during my IID restriction period I drive a vehicle that is not equipped with an IID?
If you are stopped by law enforcement during your IID restriction period and the vehicle you are driving is not equipped with the IID, you will be cited and subsequently convicted for driving in violation of your IID restriction.
For more information about DUI sentencing issues, click on the following articles:
- What Punishment Do I Face for a First Time DUI?
- Second-Time DUI Offender Must Be Granted Restricted License After 90 Days of Actual Suspension
- License Suspended at DMV DUI Hearing Despite Improper Calibration of Breath Test Device
Greg Hill & Associates