How Are Ignition Interlock Devices Used in Maryland?
Below, a Maryland DUI attorney answers questions about Ignition Interlock devices are used, including how they work and what penalties individuals might face for failing an Ignition Interlock test.
What Is Ignition Interlock and How Does It Work?
Ignition interlock is a device placed in an individual’s vehicle which essentially would make them blow into that device in order to start their car. It’s a device that people put on their vehicle for one of two reasons. Either it’s a court-ordered mandate, or it’s something that they decide to do just for their own safety and protection.
For example, I know of many situations in a courtroom where a judge might order a person to participate in an ignition interlock program for a period of time. Now this often does not happen in first DUI offense cases, but it would happen in circumstances where somebody was a second-time or multiple DUI offender. A judge just didn’t feel safe having this person back out on the road without some precautions. So if they were going to start a vehicle, the vehicle would not have the ability to have the ignition actually start without some kind of a security or precaution in place to make sure that that individual didn’t have any alcohol on their breath.
Other situations where a first-time offender might have ignition interlock on their car would be situations with a very serious accident and a high-blood alcohol concentration level. It would have to be something that made that first-time DUI situation more serious or more significant than your average first-time DUI.
Still other situations include where people choose to participate in ignition interlock it as opposed to because they’re ordered by the court to do it. For example: I’ve seen parents whose children have been caught with DUIs that might not have been very serious. They may have been a very, very low-blood alcohol concentration levels, but the parents still don’t want their children out driving a vehicle so they put an ignition interlock device on their car just so the family feels comfortable knowing that their children will not be able to operate a vehicle without actually blowing into the device.
What Are the Penalties For Failing an Ignition Interlock Test?
There are two different ways an ignition interlock can be ordered. Ignition interlock can be ordered either by the court system or by the administrative judges of the Motor Vehicle Administration.
If a Motor Vehicle Administration mandate requires a person to participate in ignition interlock, and that individual fails an ignition interlock, usually the penalty is to simply extend the period of time that a person has the ignition interlock on their vehicle. So if the Motor Vehicle Administration told an individual to participate in the ignition interlock for 12 months, and there was a violation, they might simply add on another month to that period of time, and continue to add on one month each time there was a violation of ignition interlock.
From the court’s perspective, if a person violates ignition interlock, then this could be handled in one of two ways. It could be charged as a violation of a license restriction, which is a separate criminal offense, or it could be charged as a violation of probation.
Depending on how an ignition interlock violation is charged, the penalties could be very different, ranging anywhere from up to 60 days as a maximum all the way up to a year in jail as a maximum. It depends on how the sentence was structured by a judge and on whether the individual was simply being charged with violating a license restriction or a violation of the court’s probation.