Ignition Interlock Devices for Ohio DUI / OVI

Ignition-interlock-in-use-300x200From the 2008 Lindsay Lohan stories to the 2022 news reports about Paul Pelosi’s DUI conviction, the past 14 years have shown a dramatic increase in the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for individuals charged with DUI (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).  A recent report by Coherent Market Insights indicates IIDs in North America will be a $68.5 million industry by 2027.  In Ohio, the increased use of IIDs is due, in part, to Annie’s Law.  IIDs may be an effective method of preventing OVI, but they do have drawbacks.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
An IID is a breath-testing instrument installed in a person’s vehicle.  The driver must blow into the mouthpiece before starting the vehicle.  If the device detects a threshold concentration of alcohol in the driver’s breath, the car will not start.  IIDs can also be set to include a ‘rolling re-test” which requires the driver to provide a breath sample while operating the vehicle in order for the vehicle to continue running.  Some IIDs also include a video camera which can verify the person blowing into the mouthpiece is the driver.  Data from breath samples is stored in the device’s memory and uploaded to the provider’s computer, and can be made available to the court.

What Does Ohio Law Say About IIDs?
When a person is convicted of OVI, one mandatory part of the OVI sentence is a license suspension.  During that license suspension, the person may obtain limited driving privileges after the waiting period (‘hard time’) expires.  The driving privileges may be conditioned on the use of an IID.  That means the person’s driving privileges will only be valid if the person is driving a vehicle equipped with an IID.

For a second OVI offense (or more) in ten years, an IID is mandatory if the OVI is alcohol-related (as opposed to drug-related).  For a first OVI offense, an IID is not mandatory but can be required at the judge’s discretion.  Judges also have discretion to order an IID for driving privileges on an Administrative License Suspension when a person has been accused of OVI but not convicted.

Annie’s Law’, passed in 2017, increased IID use in Ohio.  That law increases the length of OVI license suspensions and gives first-offenders an incentive to use IIDs.  If a first-offender utilizes an IID, he or she can obtain unlimited driving privileges and can have the length of the license suspension cut in half.

Installing an IID in Ohio
If an IID is ordered by a judge, the person must have an IID installed in the vehicle before obtaining limited driving privileges.  IID providers are listed on the website for the Ohio Department of Public Safety:  Ignition Interlock.  When the IID is installed, the person receives written proof of installation.  That proof is taken to the court, and the court issues a written entry granting driving privileges.  The entry must be with the person while driving and is only valid if the person is driving a vehicle with an IID installed.  The person must pay an installation fee and a monthly rental fee.

Drawbacks of IIDs in Ohio
While IIDs are a good idea for preventing OVI, they do have drawbacks.  First, the devices are known to produce false positives for alcohol due to certain foods, hygiene/beauty products, and cleaning products.  Second, the rolling re-test feature can create a risk of dangerous driving.  Third, IID violations can result in termination of driving privileges and possibly the imposition of a jail term.

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