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Ignition Interlock Devices in North Carolina

blow and go

The "blow and go” is a breath-testing device that looks for the presence of alcohol. It requires a breath sample, every time, before starting the vehicle.

That means even people not subject to the restriction are required to provide a sample if they want to start the car. And it also means their positive readings for alcohol, if any, can have negative consequences to your license.

The interlock, or “IID” as defense lawyers call it, also requires random breath samples, called rolling tests while driving down the road. The purpose of such additional testing is to confirm you have not consumed alcohol since start-up.

That also ensures one person doesn’t start the car and allow someone else, who may have alcohol in their system, to thereafter operate the vehicle.

When is an Ignition Interlock Required?

Under the NC criminal laws, an interlock can be required for several different reasons. In fact, it can be pursuant to a Court Order and/or NCDMV, depending on the nature and circumstances of the DUI charges and associated license revocation.

One of the more common reasons that requires installation is if you are convicted of DWI with the BAC level of .15 or higher. That’s called Gross Impairment. Neither North Carolina nor South Carolina call it “drunk driving” or “drunken driving” anymore.

In fact, DWI in NC applies to appreciable impairment. DUI in SC is a bit different, specifically mentioning by statute per se impairment if your blood or breath reading is .08 or more.

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 20-17.8, the sentencing Judge cannot issue a Limited Driving Privilege without proof of installation, which is established by providing a copy of the installation report and associated contract.

Furthermore, any privilege issued by a Judge prior to the expiration of the 45-day mandatory hold will be disallowed by the Division of Motor Vehicles. There is no provision for a hardship privilege, work privilege, or limited privilege during the 45-day waiting period/punishment after a conviction.

If you’re caught driving, you’ll be charged with DWLR Imp Rev, which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in North Carolina, which carries up to 120 days of incarceration (jail).

The ignition interlock may also be a requirement for conditional restoration of a driver license.

That can occur after the drivers license has been permanently suspended, the driver is eligible for a hearing, and the hearing officer requires an interlock device as a condition to restoring your license.

Who Installs the Ignition Interlock Device?

There are only 3 approved interlock providers in North Carolina who can install, monitor, and service the device on your vehicle. They are:

  • Smart Start - (800-418-6255)
  • Alcolock - (855-664-0353)
  • Monitech - (800-521-4246)

If the DMV requires the interlock for conditional restoration, all vehicles registered to that driver must have an interlock device installed. That can get very expensive and time consuming, as each such device must be serviced every 60 days by taking the vehicle to the provider for a data dump.

Given the monthly fees associated with maintaining an interlock device in a vehicle, if the driver has multiple cars registered, it may be more cost efficient to transfer those vehicles to another family member or officially register them as inoperable.

NOTE: You may only drive vehicles with a properly installed IID, subject to a narrow exception for workplace owned, company vehicles. Each case is different. If you have specific questions about your matter, speak with an experienced criminal attorney ASAP.

What Happens if the Interlock Detects Alcohol?Interlock

First off, you won’t be able to start your vehicle right away. If there are too many positive readings/failed attempts, Notice will be sent to DMV.

When initially starting a vehicle, if the device detects alcohol, it will go into a “lockout mode” for five minutes. After the first lockout mode, if a second failed attempt is made, interlock will go into lockout mode for an additional thirty minutes, record the failed attempt, and transmit the results the Department of Motor vehicles (“DMV”).

After starting a vehicle, the device will randomly give an audible warning, indicating a rolling test is required. If the device does not detect alcohol in your breath after that test, your car or truck will continue to operate normally.

However, if alcohol is detected on the rolling test- depending on the type of device - the driver will be instructed to stop the vehicle and the vehicle will go into lockout mode. Typically, the interlock software will require another breath sample within a few minutes.

Failure to pull over may result in the sounding of your car horn and flashing headlights which are intended to serve as notice to police to pull you over.

Is DMV Notified Every Time the Interlock Detects Alcohol?

The device keeps a record of any time it detects alcohol or if it fails to register an alcohol-free test after being in lockout mode. When the device is serviced, the results are transmitted to the DMV.

What Happens When NCDMV is Notified of a Violation?

When the North Carolina Department of Transportation / Division of Motor Vehicles is notified of interlock violations, it will send a suspension notification letter to the driver.

The driver then has 10 days to request a hearing or the suspension will begin (go into effect). In order to request a hearing, you must fill out the DMV hearing request form and mail in the associated fee within the designated time-period.

Once the request is received, the DMV will notify the driver via mail of the scheduled hearing date and time. Failure to act in a timely fashion can result in substantial adverse consequences.

What Should You do if You Have Violated Your Interlock Requirement?

If you have violated your interlock device requirement, it is important to speak with legal counsel experienced in handing DMV hearings (license revocation hearing) without delay as time is of the essence.

Failure to properly challenge a Notice of Revocation or Suspension can result in the waiver of your right to a hearing. That means you must respond within appropriate time-period, using the correct form(s), and paying all associated fees, as directed by NCDMV.

The attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA help people with a wide range of different legal matters in both North Carolina and South Carolina, including DMV hearings, DWI charges in NC, misdemeanors or felonies, traffic violations, and expungements / expunctions.

Lawyers Bill Powers and Megan Powell are licensed only in NC. Attorney Chris Beddow is licensed to practice law in both South Carolina and North Carolina. Chris is responsible for all SC legal matters on behalf of the firm.

If you have received a notice of suspension from the DMV regarding your interlock device, we would be happy to speak with you about your case. For criminal charges, we provide a free and confidential consultation.

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