Interlock Device FAQ

A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Colorado comes with some severe penalties. Among these penalties is the requirement to have an ignition interlock device installed on each vehicle you drive. In this article, we’re going to answer some of the more commonly asked questions concerning ignition interlock devices, or IIDs.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a device that stops a driver from starting their vehicle if they have been drinking. When the driver tries starting the vehicle, the IID prevents the electrical signal from reaching the engine’s starter until the driver provides a breath sample. The driver does this by breathing into a handheld unit located near the driver’s seat. If no alcohol is detected, the engine will start. If alcohol is detected, the engine will not start.

Once the vehicle has been started and is moving, the IID will randomly ask the driver for another breath sample. If the breath sample tests positive for alcohol, the vehicle doesn’t just stop, due to safety concerns. Instead, the device warns the driver to pull over and stop the vehicle. If the driver does not heed the warning, the vehicle is made conspicuous by having the headlights flash and the horn sound. This continues until the vehicle is stopped.

Finally, all approved IIDs in Colorado come equipped with a camera and GPS device. The camera prevents a driver from having someone else provide a breath sample for them. The GPS allows the vehicle’s location to be tracked and logged.

When is an Ignition Interlock Device Required?

An IID is required in the following instances in order to legally drive in Colorado:

  • A conviction for DUI;
  • An administrative license revocation due to excess blood alcohol content, or BAC; or
  • A license revocation due to a refusal to submit to chemical testing during a DUI stop.

How Long Must an Ignition Interlock Device Remain Installed?

The length of time that an IID must remain installed on your vehicle depends on the circumstances of the charges against you:

1st DUI or excess BAC license revocation- 4 months without an issue if the BAC was below 0.15

  • 1st DUI or excess BAC license revocation – eight-month IID installation, or two-year IID installation if BAC was 0.15 or greater;
  • 1st revocation for refusal to submit to BAC testing – two-year IID installation.

Who Installs Ignition Interlock Devices?

All IID installations in Colorado must be done by a vendor approved by the state. The Colorado DMV keeps a list of all approved IID vendors.

What Does an IID Cost?

In general,  the cost of an IID varies by the type of vehicle it is being installed in, as well as how long the device needs to remain installed. Overall cost consists of:

  • An installation fee;
  • A monthly lease fee;
  • A calibration fee; and
  • A removal fee.

The Colorado Department of Revenue administers a fund that provides financial assistance to first-time offenders who cannot afford installation.

Once the IID is Installed, When Do I Have to Provide a Breath Sample?

You will need to provide a breath sample every time you start your car. If the sample tests positive for alcohol, you will have to wait 15 minutes or more before you can try to start your vehicle again. In addition, the IID will log the fact that a positive breath sample has been given.

Once the engine has been started and the vehicle is moving, you will randomly have to provide additional breath samples. These rolling retests can occur anywhere from 4 to 45 minutes after the car starts.

Do I Have to Stop the Vehicle for a Rolling Retest?

If you can safely provide a breath sample, you do not have to stop your vehicle to do so. In the event it is not safe to immediately provide a sample, you have a 5-minute window within which to do so.

Will My Engine Stop if a Rolling Retest Detects Alcohol?

No. Due to safety concerns, your engine will not stop if a rolling retest detects alcohol. However, depending on the vendor, the vehicle’s horn will sound, headlights will flash, or the vehicle alarm will sound. The positive test will also be logged. The only way to stop the alarm, horn, or flashing light is to stop the vehicle and turn off the engine.

If My Engine Stops, Will I Be Able to Restart My Vehicle?

You will be able to restart your vehicle if you fail a rolling retest, but you will have to provide a clean breath sample first. In addition, you may have to wait up to 15 minutes to be able to do so.

Does Any Amount of Alcohol Prevent My Vehicle From Starting?

To be effective, IIDs can detect very small amounts of alcohol. This amount is well below the legal BAC limit in Colorado. It is recommended that a driver using a vehicle equipped with an IID avoid using cologne, breath fresheners, mouthwash, hand sanitizers, or any product that contains alcohol.

If you think that you may be required to install an IID on your vehicle, it is important to first discuss your situation with an experienced Colorado DUI attorney. Take the time to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options.