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When will an OWI charge lead to an ignition interlock device installation?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

You may have heard that if you are convicted enough times for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (OWI), you’ll be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your automobile. IIDs prevent you from starting the vehicle unless you blow into the device and it detects that your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are low enough.

IID installations are part of the license suspension penalty with an OWI conviction. But how many offenses will it take for a court to order you to install a device?

IID installations as early as the first offense

You can get an IID on your first OWI conviction per state rules. According to state police, if your BAC at the time of the traffic stop was .17% or higher, a court will ask you to install an IID while suspending your driving privileges as part of the conviction.

Hitting the .17% threshold does more than lead to an IID installation. A license suspension period for someone convicted of OWI typically lasts about 180 days. But those convicted of OWI and with a BAC of .17% or more will have to face an extended license suspension period of up to a year. Also, officials may require you to apply for an ignition interlock-restricted license after the first 30 days of your suspension.

Regaining driving privileges

If your license was suspended and the court ordered you to have an IID installed in your car, you may be able to regain your driving privileges. You’ll have to pay all the required fees, serve any jail time and complete the IID/restricted license period before requesting a license restoration.

While it’s possible to serve an IID period and restore your driving privileges, driving with an IID can be cumbersome. Not to mention you’ll have to pay to rent the devices per day, which can hurt your financials. If you face an OWI, consult a legal professional to determine if you can contest your charges in court or reduce your penalties to avoid an IID installation.