Ignition Interlocks After DUIs in Utah: A Guide

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in every state, and a DUI conviction can have serious consequences, including the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and the inability to work in certain professions that require a clean driving record. Another potential consequence of a DUI conviction is having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

An ignition interlock is a device that is installed in your vehicle. You go to a licensed distributor of interlock devices and pay to have it installed. Then, whenever you want to start up your vehicle, you must blow into the device and it must register that you are not over certain limits for blood-alcohol content. There are serious restrictions and penalties involved with having an ignition interlock in your vehicle. However, not everyone who gets convicted of driving under the influence necessarily gets an ignition interlock installed, and you can argue that you are not a good candidate to be an ignition interlock restricted driver.

For a free, confidential analysis of your situation, call Overson Law’s Utah DUI defense lawyers at (801) 758-2287.

What is an “Ignition Interlock?”

An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer that is installed into a vehicle. In order for a vehicle with an ignition interlock to start up, the driver must blow into the ignition interlock device’s breath tester, which measures their blood-alcohol concentration. If the driver’s BAC is above the set limit, the vehicle will not start. In Utah, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.05% per Utah Code § 41-6a-502. But under Utah Code § 41-6a-518(8)(b)(iv), ignition interlocks will not let the car turn on if your BAC is over 0.02%.

Ignition interlocks usually work by blocking the ignition signal from getting to where it needs to go to start the car. Once the interlock registers a valid BAC, the signal is let through, and the car starts.

Ignition interlocks have a sensor that measures someone’s blood-alcohol concentration and generally also has a way to keep track of the recordings from each use. So, if you blow into an ignition interlock one day at you are above the legal limit, the ignition interlock will record that. On the other hand, the interlock will also record all of the times that you blow into it and are not above the legal limit.

Is it Bad if I Fail an Ignition Interlock Test?

Truth be told, failing an ignition interlock test is not the idea. However, the level of seriousness linked to a failed ignition interlock test will depend on your circumstances. For example, if part of the court’s orders are that you do not drink at all, and the interlock device has a reading that you had alcohol in your system, that will not look good. On the other hand, such a reading can show that you are choosing to not get behind the wheel while intoxicated if the car is shown to have not moved after you failed the ignition interlock test.

Ultimately, the goal of an ignition interlock is to prevent you from drinking and driving. As long as that goal is accomplished, the justice system considers it a win.

When Can You Be Made to Get an Ignition Interlock in Utah?

Getting an ignition interlock installed is often a punishment for a conviction of the crime of driving under the influence. The specific criteria for getting an ignition interlock installed in your car are going to be different for each state. In Utah, there are a number of crimes that, upon conviction, result in the convicted person becoming ignition interlock restricted. Below, our Lehi DUI defense lawyers have detailed some of these crimes.

Driving Under the Influence

Like every single other state, Utah criminalizes driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. That conduct is prohibited under Utah Code § 41-6a-502. It is worth noting that the Utah legal limit of a BAC of 0.05% is less than the more common limit of 0.08% that other states use. This means that, if you do have a drink, you probably have to wait longer for more of the alcohol to make its way out of your system before getting behind the wheel, even if you otherwise feel “fine.”

Upon getting convicted of driving under the influence, there is now a chance that you will be required to have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle. However, for first offenders, it is less likely that you will be required to have an ignition interlock. Ultimately, it will depend on the events from which a conviction arises, so you should speak to our lawyers about your unique situation.

Interlock Restricted Driver Violations

Simply driving while drunk is not the only thing that can result in an ignition interlock being put in your car. There are other things that are considered “interlock-restricted driver violations.” First, Utah Code § 41-6a-520.1 makes it so that refusing a chemical test after suspected driving under the influence can result in an ignition interlock being required for your vehicle. Second, Utah Code § 76-5-102.1, describing the crime of negligently operating a vehicle resulting in injury, can result in an ignition interlock being placed on your vehicle. In short, if you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and injure someone else, there is a good chance that you will be an interlock restricted driver.

Vehicular Homicide

The crime of “negligently operating a vehicle resulting in death” is described in Utah Code § 76-5-207. The crime entails operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent way that results in the death of someone else. Additionally, operating a vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit of 0.05% or while under the influence of a controlled substance can also result in being charged with this crime if it results in the death of another person.

Acting “criminally negligent” is itself defined in Utah Code § 76-2-103(4) as conduct where the actor should be aware of a substantial risk that someone else will get hurt or killed. Of course, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol creates a substantial risk that someone will get hurt or killed, so it constitutes criminal negligence if not something worse.

A vehicular homicide conviction will almost certainly result in you becoming an ignition interlock restricted driver.

Second Offenses

For subsequent offenses like driving under the influence beyond the first one, you are much more likely to be required to have an ignition interlock in your vehicle. Per Utah Code § 41-6a-518.2(b), second or subsequent offences of crimes related to driving under the influence can make it so you are required to have an ignition interlock in your vehicle. Under this section, there are a number of convictions that are applicable, and there are quite a few different timeframes within which a subsequent offence would make you an interlock restricted driver. The framework is complicated, so it is best to be candid with our Layton DUI defense lawyers and have them asses your case and figure out the best path forward.

Who Pays for an Ignition Interlock in Utah?

It may come as a surprise to some people that the government does not pay for the procurement and installation of an ignition interlock into your vehicle. Instead, you do.

The process for installing an ignition interlock system in your car is detailed on the Utah Department of Public Safety website. The first thing that happens is that the driver is noted as being “ignition interlock restricted.” This means that they are only legally permitted to operate vehicles of all kinds that have an ignition interlock installed. Second, you yourself will need to go to an ignition interlock installation provider and get one placed in your vehicle. You will also need to pay the cost of installing the ignition interlock device.

Penalties for Bypassing or Attempting to Bypass an Ignition Interlock Device

Some people may be tempted to try and get around an ignition interlock device. They may try to disable the device entirely or “trick” it by having someone else who is sober blow into the breathalyzer. This is a terrible idea in all circumstances. It is illegal to try and tamper with your ignition interlock or have someone else breathe into it to fool the sensor into thinking you are sober.

Moreover, driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock installed while you are an ignition interlock restricted driver is also illegal. So, if you are pulled over after trying to get past the interlock or driving a car without one installed, you will be charged with a crime. If you are also intoxicated when you are driving and you get pulled over under these circumstances, the penalties are likely to be much worse than if you were merely driving drunk. For example, if you license was not permanently revoked already, there is a good chance that a judge may feel that doing so would be warranted under these circumstances.

Avoiding Becoming an Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver in Utah

Getting an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle is a somewhat extreme step as far as penalties for driving under the influence are concerned. What is means is that the state of Utah does not trust you to manage your drinking habits enough to drive safely, and wants some sort of assurance that you will not drive drunk. Accordingly, not everyone who is accused and convicted of driving under the influence will be required to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle.

For example, if this is your first offence for driving under the influence, unless there are egregious circumstances, our lawyers can argue that having an ignition interlock in your vehicle is not warranted because this was a “one-off” situation.

Alternatively, if you are able to successfully defend against DUI charges, you will not be convicted and there will be pretty much no chance that an ignition interlock will be installed in your vehicle in that case. It should be noted that it is easier to have our lawyers fight and win a case than it is to do damage control after a conviction, so it is beneficial to get in touch with legal counsel as soon as you know you are getting charged with driving under the influence to have the bets chance at avoiding becoming an ignition interlock restricted driver.

Discuss Your Situation with Our Utah DUI Defense Lawyers Today

Overson Law’s Park City, Utah DUI defense lawyers can help you with your case when you call us at (801) 758-2287.