You’ve likely seen an ignition interlock device in action at some point. You may have even been asked to operate one for a friend. But what is an ignition interlock device exactly, and how do you get stuck with one in your car?

Ignition interlock devices (or IIDs) are just one of the many penalties that come in the wake of a DWI conviction, and DWI expert Mark Thiessen is here to tell you everything you need to know about ignition interlock devices. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of DWI, call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 for a trial-tested, winning defense. 

Texas ignition interlock device laws

How do you end up with an ignition interlock device in your car anyway? DWI fines and possible jail time are not the only penalties for a DWI conviction. 

A DWI in Texas first offense usually won’t result in an ignition interlock device being put in your car (unless you are convicted of a DWI with a blood alcohol content of over .15%), but 2nd DWI and all subsequent DWI convictions will result in a DMV approved ignition interlock device being placed in your vehicle. 

Ignition interlock device, how does it work?

What is an ignition key interlock system? Okay, enough about the ignition interlock device laws, you might still be wondering how an IID system works in the first place.

An ignition interlock device is basically a breathalyzer that gets installed in your vehicle. If your car has an IID installed, you won’t be able to start it without successfully passing a breathalyzer test. Not only must you blow into the IID device in order to start your car, but the machines also feature rolling retests, meaning you will also be required to blow into it at intervals while you are driving. 

Because the systems are often court-ordered as a stipulation of bail or parole, the IID system also records data about the following:

  • The results of the driver’s BAC tests
  • Any missed rolling retests
  • Any attempts to remove or damage the device itself
  • Missed required recalibrations and maintenance
  • Photos of the driver and passengers at the time of the tests

If you were thinking you could have a friend blow into your ignition interlock device so that you could have a drink or two and still drive, think again. Ignition interlock devices with cameras are now the standard issue. If you let someone else blow into your IID the photo will be documented and you will be charged with a violation. 

How much does a breathalyzer for car ignition cost?

Another factor that makes ignition interlock devices even more inconvenient is that you are required to pay for the cost of the device and its installation. 

  • The installation itself will cost you $100 to $200.
  • The device’s regular maintenance and recalibration will cost you another $50 to $100 per month.
  • Even the removal of the device costs money! Expect to pay a shop fee of around $50 to have them take the IID system out of your vehicle.

What happens if I fail a breath test on my ignition interlock device?

IID system violations can vary greatly depending on the severity of your violation and your previous offenses. A violation can mean that you either:

  • Failed a breath test
  • Failed to take a rolling retest
  • Attempted to tamper with or remove the device
  • Had another person take a test on your IID system
  • Got arrested for a DWI in another vehicle while having the IID installed in your car

These violations obviously vary greatly in severity, and therefore so do the punishments for violations, some of which include:

  • Extension of the period of ignition interlock system installation 
  • Revocation of driver’s license
  • Re-suspension of driver’s license
  • Dismissal from the IID program
  • Payment of heavy fines
  • Jail time

Keep in mind that the ignition interlock device, and any punishments incurred from IID system violations, are in addition to any of the already serious punishments you will be facing for getting a DWI in Texas.

Punishments for DWI in Texas

Ignition interlock devices are one of many secondary punishments for a conviction for DWI, and while things like IID systems and DWI surcharges in Texas are inconvenient, they are nowhere near as serious as the primary punishments, which are listed below. 

OffenseChargeMax fineJail time
1st offense DWIClass B misdemeanor$2,0003 to 180 days
2nd offense DWIClass A misdemeanor$4,00030 to 365 days
3rd, 4th offense DWIState jail felony$10,0002 to 10 years
DWI with a child passengerState jail felony$10,000180 days to 2 years
Intoxication assaultThird-degree felony$10,0002 to 10 years
Intoxication manslaughterSecond-degree felony$10,0002 to 20 years

If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of DWI, the ignition interlock device should be the last thing on your mind. If you want to avoid jail time and other life-altering penalties, you need to hire an attorney who will take your DWI case and win it. 

Only an expert DWI lawyer can protect you from the inevitable ignition interlock device for DWI

Ignition interlock devices are just one of the myriad DWI penalties imposed on those convicted of DWI. The secret to avoiding the IID system entirely is to not be convicted of DWI in the first place, but how do you do that?

We’re going to let you in on a little industry secret: not every DWI lawyer out there can actually secure a Not Guilty verdict for their client and win a DWI case, and many of them are just looking to collect their fees and move on — but not Mark Thiessen. Mark has beaten blood and breath tests on many occasions, has gone to court, fought, and won even the most complex DWI cases on behalf of his clients. See for yourself by taking a look at some selected Notable Victories

The bottom line is, if you’ve got a DWI case that you can’t lose, you can’t afford to hire just any lawyer. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation.

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.