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Understanding Florida's ignition interlock requirements, Part 1

As we've discussed on this blog, being charged for driving under the influence of alcohol can have an impact on a person's ability to drive -- sometimes permanently. At times, a person can have driving privileges restored, but this allowance may come with strings attached. Specifically, drivers may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles.

On a basic level, interlock devices require people to blow into a Breathalyzer-style machine before starting their vehicle. If the device registers a blood-alcohol concentration of at least 0.05 percent, which is below the legal limit, then the vehicle will not start.

In this blog post, we will discuss situations in which people may be ordered to use this device.

Based on state requirements, certain drivers may have to use an interlock once their permanent or restricted driver's license is reinstated. At the same time, those who receive a restricted driver's license for professional purposes (before the mandated suspension period passes) will automatically be obligated to have an interlock device on their vehicle.

The device will remain in the driver vehicle for a period of time determined by the court. First-time DUI offenders are not automatically subjected to interlock devices, but it may be required at the behest of the court or if a person's blood-alcohol concentration is 0.15 or higher. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates that second DUI offenses will lead to a minimum one year interlock requirement. Of course, the mandate can change with each case.

What drivers may not realize is that this requirement comes at a cost beyond the stigma associated with having an interlock device. We will discuss this in a forthcoming blog post.

Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "Ignition Interlock Program," accessed July 2, 2014

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