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The Florida Bar

Ignition Interlocks

Ignition interlocks are devices that are attached to a motor vehicle to prevent the driver from starting the engine if he or she is under the influence of alcohol. They are essentially like mini-breathalyzer machines, set to prevent the ignition from turning on of the person has been consuming alcohol prior to getting in the vehicle. They can be set, depending on the particular needs, such as at 0.00 or 0.02 percent breath alcohol content. In Broward County and throughout the state of Florida, the installation of ignition interlock devices is routinely ordered by judges for defendants who are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) as a requirement after the period of driver’s license suspension has passed, according to Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney William Moore.

Opponents of the devices have noted that there are several issues with the devices. First, they are unlikely to be perfectly accurate. Since a higher reading could have other consequences — for example, a violation of DUI probation — the accuracy of these devices is paramount. Like regular breath test machines used by law enforcement agencies, their perfection is far from assured, notes Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore. Another possible concern is simply the fact that the results can be easy to falsify: the driver could simply have another person blow into the machine.

There is some evidence to suggest, however, that those who are convicted of DUI who are required to use an ignition interlock device are measurably less likely to reoffend. However, the likelihood of reoffending may be tied more to long term substance abuse than any other factor. Still, most people who are arrested for driving under the influence are not alcoholics.

The state of Florida imposes a number of restrictions on individuals who are arrested for driving under the influence, regardless of whether or not they are ultimately convicted of the offense. Even drivers whose charges are dropped or who are found not guilty at trial may suffer unfortunate effects beyond simply being arrested and thrown in jail for the night. Most lose their driver’s licenses for at least six months, although it is possible to challenge the mandatory suspension within 10 days of the arrest at an administrative hearing before the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Generally, the arresting law enforcement officer testifies to demonstrate probable cause for the arrest. If probable cause is not demonstrated by the evidence, including the testimony, the driver’s license may be reinstated.

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