Recidivism is a common problem among people arrested and convicted for DWI offenses in Texas. Taking the offenders through the criminal justice system, placing them on probation, and suspending their driver’s license works in the short-term in preventing repeat offenses.

Ignition interlock devices have proven to be useful tools in preventing repeat offenses and keeping roads safer. Ignition interlock devices are used as a mandatory condition for DWI bail or probation for individuals who qualify.

The installation of these devices and using them must follow the stipulated regulations to ensure that you are not arrested for IID violations.

Contact Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer if you have received a court order to install an ignition interlock device. We will guide you through the process of installing the device and help you understand your responsibilities once you have the device installed.

Understanding Ignition Interlock Devices

An ignition interlock device is a Breathalyzer installed in individual cars. IIDs are installed as a condition of bond or probation for people charged or convicted for DWI offenses and related crimes such as intoxication assault and manslaughter.

These devices are designed to eliminate drunk driving and as an alternative to suspending the driving privileges of the defendant. IIDs allow drivers to enjoy full driving privileges they could not get with a restricted license.

The devices are connected to the car’s ignition system, preventing it from starting when you have a detectable amount of alcohol. When you get into your vehicle, you will have to blow into a mouthpiece connected to the Breathalyzer. The interlock system has a preprogrammed BAC level, which, if exceeded, the device temporarily locks the car. However, if you present a clean sample, the device will start the car.

The IID will allow you to present another sample after a few minutes if you fail the first test. Repeated failed attempts will get you locked out of your car for longer periods.

IIDs are also programmed to submit the data of failed and successful tests to the court that ordered you to install the device or probation department.

Ignition interlock devices also require the driver to submit random breath samples throughout the ride. Failing these subsequent tests does not cause the car to stop; however, it will record a failed test. The device will also warn the driver and start an alarm until he or she turns off the ignition. The same happens if you fail to submit a random sample when the device requests it.

Ignition interlock devices have sophisticated technology, which enhances their success in reducing recidivism. It is built with technology such as GPS features, anti-circumvention features, data recorders, and cameras. These features work together to ensure that the court keeps monitoring DWI offenders who are out on bond or for probation.

In Texas, drivers are required to use an IID with a camera if the court orders so that the court can ascertain that no one takes a test on behalf of the defendant.

The GPS in the device enables it to:

  • Track and map your movements in real-time
  • Determine your patterns of movement such as the most frequented places
  • Set areas or zones where you can or cannot go
  • Alert the court and yourself if you go to excluded areas
  • Tracking your vehicle

While different manufacturers have devices with different features, the state approves devices that can:

  • Prevent the driver from starting the car after submitting a BAC above the preset limit
  • Limit the driver to a maximum of five opportunities to start the vehicle within a short time
  • Measure ethanol-alcohol only
  • Prevent the car from starting after consecutive failed attempts
  • Maintain tamper-proof internal records of all the interactions the driver has with the device

If you were convicted for a commercial DWI offense, you could still install an IID, but you cannot drive commercial vehicles.

Texas Ignition Interlock Device Laws

The Penal Code, the Code of criminal procedure, and the transportation code consist of laws that form a comprehensive guideline on the ignition interlock device program. Here a brief overview of each of these laws

The Texas Transportation Code, 521.246, has the following requirements:

  • The judge will restrict your driving to vehicles with an IID if the court suspends your license for a conviction DWI and related offenses
  • You shall obtain the IID at your expense unless the court deems it in the best interest of justice to impose an alternative payment schedule for those who cannot afford the IID
  • You must continue driving with the IID for a period equal to that of the license suspension
  • You are exempted from using the IID if:
    • You must drive in the course of your employment
    • You are driving an employer-owned vehicle
    • The employer is not under the control of the defendant
    • You have notified your employer of the requirement to have an IID
    • You have proof of that notification with the vehicle

Under the Texas Code of criminal procedure, Chapter 17.441, the laws provide the conditions under which the court could order an ignition interlock device. These conditions include:

  • Defendants charged under PC 49.04-49.06 (alcohol-related offenses) shall install an IID on all the vehicles they regularly drive and shall not operate a vehicle unless it has an IID unless the magistrate decides that the installation of the IID would not be in the best interests of justice
  • The defendant must install the device within thirty days of his or her release on bond
  • The court may designate the installation and verification of installation to a specific agency at the defendant's expense. That agency will also provide monitoring service, and the defendant will have to cover the costs of these services.

Chapter 42A.408 of the Code of criminal procedure provides guidelines on the use of ignition interlock devices:

  • The court may impose an IID installation on the cars owned or regularly driven by the defendant as a condition of probation if the court convicts the defendant for offenses under sections 49.04 – 49.08 of the penal Code.
  • The defendant is to install an IID as a condition of probation if:
    • He or she had a BAC of .05% or higher.
    • The court places the defendant under community probation for offenses under PC 49.04 – 49.06, and the punishment is applied based on PC 49.09 (a) or (b)
    • The defendant has previous convictions for DWI or related offenses.
  • The defendant must not drive a car without an IID if he or she was younger than 21 at the time of the DWI offense.
  • The defendant must install and pay for the IID within thirty days of the court order.
  • The department of public safety has the responsibility of approving all the IIDs in use.
  • The defendant is exempt from driving a car with an IID if he or she is driving an employer-owned vehicle in the course of employment, and he or she has no control over the employer or the business entity that owns the vehicle.

Ignition interlock Device laws under the penal Code include the following:

  • The court will impose a mandatory IID installation for one year after the suspension of your license if you were convicted for a DWI or related offense with a BAC of >.15%.
  • Defendants who are applying for an occupational license and have a first or subsequent DWI offense must operate only vehicles with an IID within ten years.

Concerning the installation of interlock devices, the court will count a subsequent offense as one committed within five years of the first offense. A DWI offense committed more than ten years before (whether a prior or the first offense) does not count as a DWI prior.

Installation and Monitoring of Ignition Interlock Devices

The laws of Texas require that approved vendors install court-ordered IIDs. You can contact these approved vendors to have the device installed in the car(s) you own or drive often.

The Department of Public Safety authorizes IID vendors to ensure that they meet and comply with the minimum standards. Some of these standards include:

  • Authorization to do business in Texas
  • Install approved devices
  • Activate any anti-circumvention features in the device as soon as is reasonably possible after receiving the court order
  • Installation and inspection of IIDs as per the court order
  • Repair or replace devices within 48 hours of receiving a complaint about the device
  • Submitting written reports of any IID violations to the supervising officer within 48 hours of the violation

You must have installed the device within thirty days of receiving the IID court order. You will also have to pay a reinstatement fee and the interlock license fee to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Some of the details you should include are:

  • Your name
  • Date of birth
  • Your driver’s license number

The department will receive your payment and details and process them within 21 business days. The installation takes about an hour to complete. You will also receive training on how to use the device and servicing instruction, including the next servicing date.

The evaluation of ignition interlock devices must follow the guidelines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These guidelines include:

  • Establishing that the device is accurate in detecting alveolar air (to avoid issues with mouth alcohol)
  • The rolling retest abilities of the device
  • Whether the software used by the device is tamper-proof
  • The anti-circumvention features of the device
  • The device’s recalibration requirements
  • The breath patterns or actions required of the driver

The law requires you to take your car for servicing and monitoring every thirty days after the installation. During the monitoring appointment, the servicing company will collect the data from the device and recalibrate it for accuracy.

The data included in the device comprises:

  • Your BAC level
  • Engine start and stop times
  • The vehicle’s running time
  • The timing and results of the rolling re-tests

The device will display a notification alerting you on the number of days to your next servicing appointment. Delays in servicing could result in a lockout, after which your vehicle will require towing.

Ignition Interlock Device Violations

Texas courts often order ignition interlock devices as a condition of probation or release on bond. You must obey this court order to ensure that you are not charged with an IID violation.

The common IID violations include:

  • Operating a car without an IID, unless you are exempt
  • Tampering with the IID
  • Attempting to bypass the device
  • Asking another person to provide a sample on your behalf (the person who provides a sample for another can be charged as well)
  • Having a BAC that exceeds the preset limit

Ignition interlock devices are designed to serve as accurate Breathalyzer to test deep lung air. Ignition interlock devices are calibrated regularly for precision. They also detect attempts to bypass the device and attempts to provide a sample from a different person. They will also send a record of all the BAC readings and any attempts to bypass them.

The features that enable an interlock device to sense and record an attempt to bypass the device include:

  • Temperature and pressure gauges
  • Sealed wiring (if you attempt to tamper, you must break the sealing)
  • The device requires you to submit the sample using a preprogrammed voice pattern
  • Having a camera which requires a photo each time you submit a breath sample
  • The device has a short cord, making it impossible for other car occupants to provide a sample on behalf of the driver.
  • The device timestamps and date-stamps all events and attempted events

The judge who ordered the IID installation can take several actions after you violate probation through an IID violation. Some of these actions include:

  • Suspension of your driving privileges
  • Revocation of your probation
  • The imposition of the maximum penalties allowed for the offense under Texas laws
  • The requirement that you wear a SCRAM bracelet

The best way to deal with an interlock device violation is to hire a DWI defense attorney. Your attorney will defend you in court and explain the cause of the breach. For example, if another person was driving your vehicle and submitted a failed test, your attorney will develop a strategy to defend you. 

Some violations can also arise when servicing your car; therefore, you must notify the mechanic that your car has an ignition interlock device installed. Alternatively, you can visit a repair shop that services cars with these devices.

Removal of an IID

Removal of an IID occurs once you complete the court-ordered IID period. However, you can qualify for an early removal in some instances. You can talk to your DWI defense attorney to determine whether you could qualify for the early removal of the IID. Some cases where you can qualify for early removal of an ignition interlock device include:

  • You have successfully served at least half of your probation
  • You have consistently good test results

You should request a hearing before a judge and present convincing evidence on why he or she should grant you an early removal of an ignition interlock device.

You can also remove the device if you have completed the court-ordered IID period. Once this is complete, the court will provide you with an order of removal that you will submit to the IID Company. You will also have to complete the relevant ignition interlock removal form, preferably through the court that orders you to install the device.

You should not attempt to remove the device yourself; the company that installed it must remove it on your behalf so that it can download the data and submit a report to the court. Removing an ignition device by yourself counts as an IID violation even if you have completed the IID installation period. Removing the device yourself could also lead to a lockout where you will be unable to access your vehicle until you take it for servicing.

Alternatives to Ignition Interlock Devices

States across America employ the use of ignition interlock devices to reduce the recurrence of drunk driving.

You can avoid an ignition interlock device using alternatives such as wearing a SCRAM bracelet or in-home alcohol monitoring. These alternatives are also available for defendants who do not own or no longer have access to a car.

In-home devices are portable alcohol monitoring devices that you can use in your home. They are an option available to defendants charged or convicted for an intoxication-related or DWI and related offenses.

These devices could be attached to a camera to ascertain that the defendant is providing the breath sample. Like an IID, the in-home alcohol-monitoring device will submit a report to the monitoring authority. The device uses fuel-cell technology to test for alcohol in the breath sample you provide.

SCRAM devices are another alternative to ignition interlock devices. Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelets monitor your alcohol consumption by measuring the alcohol content in your sweat.

You must wear a SCRAM device at all times during the probation period. These devices are based on the concept that the body releases some alcohol as sweat (in vapor form). When the perspiration reaches the device, it will record the amount of alcohol your body has.

These devices are designed to be tamper-proof and waterproof. Any attempts to remove the device or tamper with it are reported to the monitoring authority. Additional features that make it hard to bypass a SCRAM device include:

  • It uses a tamper clip that must be destroyed before you can remove the monitor.
  • The device uses technology to sense when you insert or remove the battery and reports to the authorities.
  • SCRAM devices have an electric current passing through them at all times, a break in the current will indicate that you have cut the strap or tampered with the device.
  • When you wear the bracelet for the first time, it will shine an infrared light beam against your skin and bounce it off the The device will periodically shine that light to determine whether you have tampered with the device or placed an object between the monitor and your skin.
  • In addition to monitoring your alcohol content, the device will measure your temperature to determine whether you have attempted to tamper with it. For example, placing an obstruction between the device and your skin could result in lower temperature readings.

SCRAM devices take a reading every thirty minutes and compare the readings to eliminate errors arising from using alcohol-based products. The constant tests ensure that the device does not take outside sources of alcohol as your BAC.

When the liver begins metabolizing alcohol, the process is slow and gradual. The liver will break down the alcohol over time until you have no alcohol in your system; a SCRAM monitoring device will detect these gradual changes and record a consistent graph of your BAC.

The court might require proof that you do not own or have access to a vehicle if you claim so.  You might not own a car either because:

  • You sold your car
  • The insurance company totaled it.
  • A lender repossessed your car
  • Your car is inoperable
  • You were using a borrowed vehicle at the time of the offense.

The court will require the documentation that proves you do not own a vehicle or cannot operate the one you have.

Find a DWI Defense Attorney Near Me

Fighting through the criminal justice system is overwhelming, yet it is not the end. A conviction for a DWI or intoxication-related offense has other legal requirements that you must fulfill as part of your sentence.

The installation of ignition interlock devices is one of these sentencing conditions you must obey. The process and requirements can be complicated to understand, which is why the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer dedicates its expertise to ensure that you comply with all the requirements of an IID.

We will explain the IID requirements, your responsibilities, the consequences of violating IID requirements, and the steps you can take after a violation, or the expiration of your IID requirement.

Contact us at 817-470-2128 for any questions you have about IIDs in Texas.