Getting Back on the Road After DUI: Interlock Devices

The impact of a DUI conviction in the state of Florida can be devastating to many drivers who rely on their licenses to earn a living. The license suspension included as part of the DUI sanctions means that those who drive for a living may be unable to work, and those who must commute to work by driving may lose their job for lack of transportation. However, in many cases, Florida law allows drivers convicted of DUI to obtain a hardship license requiring them to install Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) in their vehicles to allow them to drive to and from work. 

Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa knows how important your driver’s license is to you, your family, and your ability to earn an income. That’s why we work with every eligible DUI client to guide them through the process of obtaining a hardship license. This blog post explains how the system works and who is eligible to drive with an IID following a Florida DUI conviction.  

If you have questions about your eligibility for a hardship license after a DUI conviction, contact Stechschulte Nell today. 



How Does an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) System Work in Florida? 


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a mechanism installed in a vehicle’s ignition system to prevent the engine from starting if the driver has consumed alcohol. To start the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device, which analyzes their breath for the presence of alcohol. If alcohol is detected at or above a predetermined threshold (usually .025), the vehicle will not start. 


Which Vehicles Must Have the IID Installed? 


When a defendant is convicted of a DUI offense for which an IID is part of the court’s sentence, the devices must be installed in every one of the vehicles the defendant owns or leases, individually or jointly, and in any vehicles that they routinely operate. 

The Florida IID law’s specifics vary based on the circumstances of the DUI offense and whether it’s a first-time or repeat offense. Here are some of the key points:

First-Time DUI Offenders 


For first-time DUI offenders, an IID may be required in certain situations but is not mandatory unless the case involves aggravating circumstances. If the judge does decide an IID should be ordered in the case of a first offense, the unit will need to be installed in each of the defendant’s vehicles for 6 months. 

Some of the aggravating circumstances that can cause the court to impose the use of an IID as part of the defendant’s sentence for a first-offense DUI include the following: 

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.15% or higher 
  • There was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense 
  • The DUI involved an accident in which another person’s property was damaged 
  • Someone other than the driver suffered serious bodily injury 

Repeat DUI Offenders 


Florida law mandates the use of IIDs for individuals with multiple DUI convictions.  

For a second DUI conviction, Florida Statute § 316.193 requires that the defendant install and ignition interlock device in each of the vehicles registered to them for a minimum of 1 year. 

In the case of a third DUI conviction within 10 years following their prior conviction, Florida law mandates the use of IIDs in each of the defendant’s vehicles for a minimum of 2 years. 

And if someone is convicted of a fourth DUI in Florida, regardless of when the previous conviction occurred, the sentence will include installing IIDs in all their vehicles for at least 6 months. 


Hardship Licenses 


In some cases, individuals whose licenses have been suspended due to DUI convictions may apply for a hardship license that allows them to drive for essential purposes, such as work, medical appointments, or school. A hardship license can be issued even to those whose license suspension from a DUI conviction remains in effect.  

After completing a mandatory waiting period, the length of which varies depending on whether your DUI is a first or repeat offense, and following the completion of required training and substance counseling programs, a hardship license may be available. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can inform you about whether you qualify.  

However, these hardship licenses include the requirement that the hardship-licensed driver use an IID in each vehicle. 

How the IID Process Works 


First, if ordered to drive only with an IID, the individual must have an IID installed in each vehicle they drive. If the person drives an employer’s vehicle as part of their work, the court may approve a certificate exempting the employer from having an IID installed in the company vehicle. 

The installation process includes choosing an approved IID provider and paying for installing and leasing the equipment. The driver also pays monthly fees for the monitoring service. 

Using the IID requires the driver to provide a breath sample every time they start the vehicle and, in some cases, for rolling retests while driving. The IID records data related to these samples. If the driver’s breath registers a positive alcohol reading, the vehicle won’t start. Instead, the IID will permit a retest in five minutes. If the second reading continues to register a positive alcohol result, then a “fail” will be reported. 

If the second test is clear of alcohol, then the car will start.  

As the vehicle is being driven, the IID may signal another test and the driver is permitted sufficient time to pull over and provide the required breath sample. If alcohol is detected, the car will not restart. If a driver fails to provide the required breath sample and continues to drive, the IID will not turn the engine off. Instead, it will trigger the horn to sound repeatedly and the lights to flash on and off. The idea is to attract the attention of other drivers and the police. 

Successful IID Use in Florida 


For individuals with suspended or revoked licenses, IID compliance is often necessary to regain full driving privileges. Without the use of IIDs, drivers would be prohibited from driving at all for extended periods of time and suffering collateral consequences, like losing a job, withdrawing from school due to lack of transportation, inability to adequately provide transportation to children or family members for social or medical appointments. 


Read More > The Future of Interlock Ignition Technology  


Seeking the Best DUI Defense Law Firm 


Florida’s IID law and the associated requirements can be complex matters for individuals dealing with DUI convictions. It’s essential to seek an experienced criminal defense lawyer with long and successful experience handling Florida DUI cases.  

At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, we provide a vigorous defense based on many years of courtroom experience representing people accused of DUI and other alcohol-related crimes. When one of our clients finds that they need to use an ignition interlock device (IID), we guide them through the installation process, address any violations or issues that may arise during IID use, and explore alternatives or challenges if you believe IID requirements are unjust. 

If you need the experience of a skilled DUI defense law firm or have questions about Florida’s law relating to the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs), call our office today at 813-280-1244. 


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