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4 myths about ignition interlocks

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | DUI

Ignition interlocks are increasingly common for those convicted of DUI offenses. However, there are still some common misunderstandings about these devices.

There are a few common myths that you may have heard.

Myth 1: interlocks disable your car

Many believe that interlocks completely disable your vehicle. Interlocks only prevent the car from starting if a breath test detects alcohol. They do not affect the vehicle’s operation otherwise. If you pass, you can drive as normal. In 2022, ignition interlock devices prevented more than 90,000 ignition starts in Pennsylvania.

Myth 2: anyone can start the car for you

Some think having a sober person blow into the device lets the driver avoid detection. This is not possible because many interlocks require periodic retests while driving. Plus, some models take a picture during each test to confirm the driver’s identity.

Myth 3: an interlock violation means jail time

Violating interlock restrictions does not automatically lead to jail time. It may result in an extension of your interlock period or license suspension. Multiple violations could result in harsher penalties.

Myth 4: interlocks are mandatory after any DUI

Currently, Pennsylvania only mandates interlocks for some repeat DUI offenses, those with particularly high BACs and those who received license suspensions for chemical test refusals. Mandates for first-time standard DUI cases remain up to the judge’s discretion.

Understanding how ignition interlocks work and common misconceptions about them is important for those required to use them. Their design prevents cheating, and violations usually lead to administrative penalties but not necessarily jail time. If you or a loved one need an ignition interlock device, keep these facts in mind.