The “Blow and Go” – Do I have to get a Ignition Interlock after DWI charges in North Carolina?
By: Bill Powers, Monroe NC Impaired DWI Lawyer and CoAuthor of the NC DWI Quick Reference Guide
Most people have heard of the ignition interlock device, referring to the IID in North Carolina as the “blow and go” or “in car breathalyzer.” If you haven’t, the ignition interlock in North Carolina is a machine installed in your car that measures alcohol in your breath and electronically records the BAC reading.
The ignition interlock device in North Carolina is not used as evidence in a DWI trial. There are normally two instances where clients are required to have the ‘blow and go’ installed: When there is a high BAC in DWI charges (.15 or higher) or as a condition of restoration by DMV.” Bill Powers
If you have questions about how IID works (ignition interlock devices), when they’re required, and other aspects of breath testing in North Carolina, check out our videos and supplemental legal information on our website.
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What is an Ignition Interlock in North Carolina? How does the Ignition Interlock work? Do I have to get a Ignition Interlock after DWI charges?
Hey, I’m Bill Powers. I’m going through, today, some of the different devices that we use in North Carolina.
As a lawyer who handles a lot of Impaired Driving cases throughout the state, oftentimes, I have clients refer to the breathalyzer and it means, to some people, different things to different people.
Right here next to me is the original Smith & Wesson old-school, but still workable, this one actually still works, breathalyzer device.
You may be able to see, it says breathalyzer on it.
Sometimes people refer to the breathalyzer as the roadside test that they have seen either at the Alco-Sensor FST or one of the other, although, valid older models of the Alco-Sensor FST.
Sometimes, people are referring to a breathalyzer if they’ve been convicted of Driving While Impaired and they have some condition with the DMV in getting their licensed restored.
Now, I’m not thirsty this morning, this isn’t a Thirst Blaster cup.
This is not something I made. The manufacturer actually made this and this is the handy-dandy ignition interlock device, this one’s made by Monitech.
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There are three companies in North Carolina, presently, that are authorized to install these in your vehicle and be used as documentation that you’re not driving while you have alcohol in your system.
I am not endorsing one product over another, this one just happens to have a cool cup that when you’re driving around, if you don’t want people to know that you’re having to do these breath samples, it comes with a lid and you actually look like you’re drinking, I guess, your morning coffee in the car or whatever.
This device is an ignition interlock device. It measures or looks for the existence of, frankly, any amount of alcohol in your breath.
A lot of people think that you actually blow into, most of these devices now use humming.
Yeah, like humming, hmm and it measures the vibration. There’s a microphone on the side and so it’s not really measuring the breath coming out.
That is not to say it doesn’t measure the breath, that’s how they get the sample but there’s not a pressure switch in here or something that we’d use, let’s say, the Alco-Sensor FST.
These things are installed by the company.
There’s a little cord that comes out. Sometimes people put them underneath their dashboard or inside their little wallet, container on the side of the car or whatever. Before you start your car, there’s a process that you have to click through.
They teach you how to use these things and you blow into it. It says cleared or whatever, each manufacturer is a little bit different, and it allows you to start your car.
Once you’re driving around, there are random tests.
Rolling tests, sometimes people refer to them, where it warns you whether it’s a beep or someone will talk to you now, where you have to either grab it and blow into it or some manufacturers recommend that you pull over on the side of the road.
That makes sure that you just don’t have someone start your car for you and you jump in and drive away. This makes sure that while you’re driving as well, they can tell whether you’ve had any amount of alcohol in your system.
Now, this technology is changing very, very quickly. In fact, while some of the manufacturers have the capabilities, we’re not quite using them to their full potential.
Some of these things, actually, have cameras on them now so that they can actually see you blowing into it, your face.
Some of them have the ability to talk via phone lines or electronically to satellites, I guess, and let them know where you were, when you were and immediately, report back.
Presently what it does is it measures the alcohol.
If you’re driving around and you’ve got alcohol in your system and you have failed the test for lack of a better term, whatever that means, your lights in the front of your car start going on and off, the horn starts going off.
The logic is that if a law enforcement officer sees this, and they know what they look like or they’re trained to see why these things do what they do, they’ll pull you over.
I think in the very near future, assuming the legislature and I do recommend this, I would rather have the newer, more reliable devices out there but assuming the legislature or the people that approve these devices through the administrative code get to it, I think we’re going to see more and more commonly two things: One, that there’s a camera attached to them and two, there’s geometrics.
Meaning that immediately, law enforcement will be advised where you are and that you’re driving around and they can actually find you using GPS mapping, maybe telemetry on your phone.
Presently, worst case scenario, it seems like some alarms, bells and whistles go off and then, when you go every other month, they plug in the device in their machine at the office, they’ll show a report that you had alcohol in your system, report it to the DMV and then you get a letter from DMV.
That’s problematic too because it could 60 or more days before you get that notice, before you get the revocation notice and it’s a little bit more difficult to defend yourself saying, “Well, I don’t particularly remember that day. I do remember one day having problems,” as opposed to real time, “Hey, something’s wrong,” contact the company. In fact, our client, in this instance, had an opportunity or maybe some other opportunity to show, “Hey, I don’t have any alcohol in my system.
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I’ll come there or you come to me, I’ll blow into this and zero, zero.” Then, we wouldn’t have as many hearings for failure to follow the court’s order or DMV’s order as a condition of restoration.
If you like to see or play with these devices, I got all three of them by different manufacturers. If you’d like me to come to your workplace, to your school, to your office.
If you’re a judge or if you’re a prosecutor or a defense lawyer or a principal, I enjoy talking about these things.
I’ll bring out all the equipment, I’ll show you how it works, I’ll explain how it works and I think information is power.
I think people make better decisions when they’re better educated about how our devices work and how our legal system works. I also feel its part of our responsibility as legal professionals to share what we know and other information.
Plus I just like teaching. My telephone number is 704-342-HELP. That’s 704-342-4357.
My name is Bill Powers and hope to hear from you.
What Happens with an Ignition Interlock? 1710G