A Significant Drunk Driving Penalty – The Ignition Interlock Device

January 25, 2012

If you are convicted in Wisconsin of Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated (OWI), of Operating with a Prohibited Blood Alcohol Concentration (PAC), or for refusing to submit to a chemical test for impairment (Refusal), there will be several penalties, including an order that you equip any vehicle you own or operate with an ignition interlock device (IID). See Wis. Stat. § 343.301(1g). The only exception is if your conviction was a first offense, although a recent proposal aims to expand IIDs to all first time offenders, and your blood alcohol level was under .15.  See § 343.301(1g)(b)1.

An IID is a system installed in a car which tests for alcohol on the driver’s breath before the car will start. The driver must blow into a small alcohol sensor attached to the car’s ignition. The IID then determines the driver’s breath alcohol and allows the car to start only if the driver has a breath alcohol level of .02 or lower. § 340.01(46m)(c). The IID forces the driver to conduct a periodic retest while driving. This retest is designed to prevent a sober friend from starting the car for an intoxicated driver.

The court must order that the IID remain installed for at least one year and may order that it be installed for as long as the maximum period of license revocation for the conviction. The IID must be installed when the Department of Transportation issues a driver’s license or forthwith if the court so orders. § 343.301(2m).

An IID is embarrassing. Anyone with an IID installed in his or her car will face some level of trepidation whenever he or she is asked for a lift, departs his or her parking lot at work or picks the kids up from school.

Worse, the IID is expensive. It costs roughly $1,000 per year to have the IID installed and maintained. The convicted driver is responsible for this expense and must also pay a $50 surcharge to the court for it. § 343.301(3)(a) & (5). When combined with the other potential expenses associated with an OWI or PAC conviction – roughly $700 to $7000 in fines plus court costs, $255 for an alcohol assessment, various expenses for alcohol treatment, $50 to get an occupational license, work release (“Huber”) fees, electronic monitoring expenses and increased insurance premiums – a conviction can be very burdensome financially.

If you are arrested for drunk driving in Wisconsin, please contact an attorney right away. While the circumstances may lead you to believe that there is no way to win, an experienced drunk driving attorney may be able to help you either substantially reduce your penalties or defeat the charges altogether.

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For more information about "A Significant Drunk Driving Penalty – The Ignition Interlock Device," contact Brian C. Hough at bhough@axley.com or 608.283.6772.