Tag: Ignition Interlock

arizona-ignition-interlock-requirementMotor vehicle laws are state laws, so if you have an ignition interlock in your vehicle, it’s because a state court or DMV ordered it. If you’re leaving that state and moving to Arizona, you might be wondering if you can ditch your ignition interlock and start over.

The answer is no. You’ll have to install an Arizona-approved device once you establish residency in the state.

The reason is something called the Interstate Drivers License Compact. It was formed so that states could share information about driving-related offenses. One of its main functions is preventing drivers from escaping the consequences of those offenses by crossing state borders.

Here’s the important fact: when you have an ignition interlock, your drivers license is conditional. Unless you complete your ignition interlock requirement, your license will not be restored in your home state. And if it’s not restored there, you do not have driving privileges in other states either.

What to do when you move

First, you must check that you are permitted to move out of state – not all offenders in all states are allowed to.

If you are moving to Arizona, contact the Arizona Department of Transportation and find an approved ignition interlock provider, such as Monitech. They will help you do what is necessary to remain compliant.

Arizona is a beautiful state, one that attracts many new residents each year. You might want to leave all your troubles behind and move there, but you’ll need to bring along your interlock requirement – at least, until you can fulfil it and remove the device.

shout-out-to-legislatorsIf the wheels of justice turn slowly, you’d be excused for thinking that the wheels of legislation are parked with the engine off, at least when looking at how some states advance their anti-drunk driving laws. It’s been a long battle to get states to recognize that certain measures work and are ready to be adopted. Take for example ignition interlocks, devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

New Mexico was the first state to require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. It saw drunk driving deaths drop by 36 percent. Arizona’s dropped 46 percent after a similar law was passed.

One would expect other states to eagerly adopt an all-offender law, instead of just requiring the devices for repeat offenders. However, the fact that 25 states have passed such laws is due to the diligence of committed legislators who fought to make it happen.

In others states, the fight continues. Recently Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) honored five legislators who authored and championed HB 877/SB 619, North Carolina’s all-offender interlock law. The NC legislators are: Senators Josh Stein and Buck Newton and Representatives Jonathan Jordan, Darren Jackson and John Faircloth. Last summer MADD announced their support of the bills.


Senators Stein and Newton, Representatives Jordan, Jackson and Faircloth

The bill is still in consideration. Currently North Carolina requires interlock devices only for repeat offenders, or for first offenders who are extremely drunk at the time of arrest. Extending interlocks to all drunk drivers would ensure that they could not get behind the wheel again while impaired for a prescribed amount of time. Many people are able to turn their lives around during their interlock period.

With luck, 2016 is the year it will make it through and be signed by the Governor. When that happens, North Carolina’s roads and streets will be safer by a good margin.

Meanwhile, to these five legislators and all the other men and women who worked to wipe out drunk driving for good, we offer our sincere thanks.

ignition-interlock-thresholdAn ignition interlock has one job, which it does well: preventing your vehicle from starting if you have been drinking. So if you have had a beer or a few, you can’t risk taking your car out for a spin until you are sure that most of the alcohol is out of your system and you’re in shape to drive.

But how much alcohol is “most?” Does every last trace have to be gone?

In fact, you will still pass your ignition interlock breath test if you have a small amount of alcohol in your system. States set the allowable threshold, which is usually around 2.5 BAC (blood alcohol concentration). That means your blood contains 2.5 parts alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood.  A person is deemed intoxicated with a BAC of .08 in all fifty states.

Why 2.5? The reason is that there can be residual alcohol in the mouth from other sources. These can include fruit juice (which ferments slightly), bread and dough (which contain yeast), and menthol (another type of alcohol). It’s not possible to be intoxicated on the tiny amounts present in those things, but they can register on a car breathalyzer, so to be safe, the threshold is set high enough to prevent false alarms in most cases.

So is it safe to drink just enough to stay under the threshold? Not really. For one thing, alcohol takes time for your body to absorb. So you could drink enough to register 2.2, start your car, and in 15 minutes have a BAC of 2.6 – over the limit – and you would fail your rolling re-test.

Another reason is that those alcohol levels are recorded and shared with authorities. So probation offices, prosecutors and judges would know how well you are keeping to your sobriety program.

The threshold is a reprieve, a safety net. It is not permission to drink steadily at a low level before driving. Doing so will eventually get you right back where you started: in DUI court. But this time, you’ll be facing a multiple offense.

If you are convicted of drunk driving in Arizona, you’ll be installing an ignition interlock in your vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents you from starting a vehicle if you have been drinking. You’ll need an ignition interlock in Arizona for any drunk driving offense, including a first offense.

But what if you have to drive a company vehicle – say, make deliveries, haul material, or ferry passengers for work? Can you still do it if your employer’s car or truck does not have an ignition interlock installed?

The answer is no. A few years ago it was permissible to drive the company car. There was something called an employer exemption which permitted you to drive a vehicle on the job if the employer signed off on it.

However, in 2013 that exemption was repealed. It is now against the law for a driver with an interlock requirement to get behind the wheel of any vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock.

That’s a tough situation. It goes without saying that many people convicted of DUI lose their jobs because the can no longer drive at their workplace.

Offenders in this position have one possibility. One can arrange for an employer’s vehicle to have an ignition interlock installed. An understanding employer might agree to do so. In fact, some employers are installing the devices in all their vehicles to protect them against legal action instigated when an employee drinks and drives.

In general, though, prepare for a rough time if you use an ignition interlock in Arizona and need to drive an employer’s car. The lack of employer exemption is why, even more than in other states, an Arizona DUI is a life-changing burden.


If you’re like most DWI offenders in North Carolina, you just want the whole ordeal to be over and done with. There have been – or will be – fines to pay, an alcohol or drug assessment, and a suspension to comply with. And if your blood alcohol level was .15 or higher, or you have at least one other DWI on your record during the last seven years, you will have an ignition interlock in your vehicle. Every time you use it you’re reminded of your DWI.

An ignition interlock requirement is rarely very long – one year is most common – but it’s one that must be followed through with from start to finish. Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts – the only way out is through. This is what you should be doing to make the fastest, most trouble-free journey through your ignition interlock period and out the other side:

  • Do not drive any vehicle without an ignition interlock. Your license restriction strictly prohibits you from operating a vehicle that does not have an interlock.
  • Do not try to cheat the ignition interlock. The law requires that you, the driver, perform the test when driving the vehicle. Getting a “friend” to do so is not only illegal, it is dangerous, and could result in much more severe penalties. Tampering is also prohibited, and attempts to do so will show up on the log and could get your interlock period extended. That’s exactly what you’re not trying to do.
  • Keep to the terms of your restriction. If you are only allowed to drive to work, school, and/or substance abuse treatment,  then abide by those terms. Once again, violation will land you in hot water.

You might wonder if you can get time off your ignition interlock period if you do not fail any tests.  The answer is, probably not. If a court ordered the interlock, the judge would have to change the order. If the interlock was ordered by the DMV, then you might be able to arrange a hearing. Consult your attorney.

So that’s the way to get rid of your interlock: keep to the rules, so you get through your interlock period in the shortest time possible. Afterwards, you can apply to have the interlock removed and your license restored – something to look forward to as you take your tests and mark the days.

Good luck!

Certain DUI offenses require you to have an ignition interlock on your vehicle. Those offenses don’t require you to stay in Arizona, however. Since motor vehicle laws are state laws, you might think that you can ditch your ignition interlock if you move out of Arizona. That is not the case, however. You must keep the ignition interlock wherever you move to.

Since 1960, states have been getting together to address the problem of those who would evade traffic laws by moving out of state. Since the 1990s, 45 states now agree to honor each other’s drunk driving violations and cooperate on penalties and consequences.  The agreement is known as the Interstate Drivers License Compact.

For Arizonans with an ignition interlock, this means that if you move out of state, you need to contact an authorized interlock provider in your new state that will provide the services that Arizona requires. Generally this isn’t difficult, as most states have the same requirements:

  • Installation by qualified personnel
  • Monitoring and reporting of interlock activity at regular intervals
  • Calibration of the device at regular intervals

The reports, which tell the authorities if you’ve failed any breath tests, or if the ignition interlock has been removed or tampered with, must be sent to the Arizona DOT. You can arrange for the reports to be sent when you have your device installed in your new state.

It’s important to remember that it is your responsibility, and no one else’s, to make sure that the reports reach Arizona. If they don’t, you’ll be deemed in violation of the terms of your DUI. That violation will also carry over into your new state, thanks to the Interstate Drivers License Compact.

The good news is that if you do make the proper arrangements, you’ll able to drive, safe and unimpaired, in your new state. Arizona wishes you well in your efforts on that score.

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