Ignition Interlock Violations in CT

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Avoidance or Tampering With An Ignition Interlock In Violation of 14-227k

One of the most common requirements after a Connecticut DUI charge is the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, or IID. If you are required to have an IID installed after a DUI charge and you tamper with or try to avoid the device, you will face additional criminal charges.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is like a breathalyzer for your car. Once the IID is installed, you breathe into the device, and it measures your Breath Alcohol Concentration(BrAC). If your BrAC is above a specific limit, the car won’t start.

Car breathalyzer ignition interlock devices come in different shapes, styles, and sizes. Most are about the size of a TV remote. They generally are made up of a few pieces, including

  • The handheld unit
  • The mouthpiece
  • A relay cord that connects the device to your vehicle,
  • A camera unit

Ignition interlock devices will vary based on the manufacturer, but they all function the same way. You breathe into the device and if your BrAC is above a certain level, it prevents you from starting your car.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?

A car breathalyzer ignition interlock has two primary functions: (1) to prevent you from starting your car if you are intoxicated; and (2) to guarantee your continued sobriety while you are operating a motor vehicle.

Once the ignition interlock is installed, you must provide a breath sample before you can drive. This is done by blowing into the mouthpiece before you start your car.

If the IID detects alcohol above a specific limit (usually .02%), you will be unable to start your car. If your BAC is below the limit, you will be able to start the vehicle.

Once you have started your vehicle, the ignition interlock will prompt you to provide a breath sample throughout your trip. These random retests prevent you from having a sober person start the car as you continue to drive after you have been drinking.

Most ignition interlock devices give you 4 to 6 minutes to complete a retest once you have been prompted. This allows you to pull off the road or take extra precautions if you are driving in heavy traffic.

What Is the Crime of Avoiding an Ignition Interlock Device?

Connecticut law has moved away from lengthy driver’s license suspensions and instead emphasizes the use of ignition interlock devices. As more people are facing DUI charges and having an IID installed, courts are seeing increased attempts to bypass or tamper with ignition interlocking devices.

If you try to tamper with or bypass the IID, you can be charged with the crime of operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device in violation of C.G.S. §14-227k. To prove the crime of operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device, the prosecutor must prove that: (1) you were required to operate a vehicle with an IID; and (2) you

  1. Asked another person to blow into the IID for you;
  2. Altered, tampered with, or bypassed the IID so it no longer disabled the vehicle on which it was installed; or
  3. Operated a vehicle without a functioning IID.

What Are the Penalties for Tampering or Bypassing an IID?

If you tamper with the IID or try to bypass it and start your car anyway, you face Class C misdemeanor charges and will lose your license. In Connecticut, a Class C misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Similarly, if you have a car breathalyzer ignition interlock installed on your vehicle and your drive someone else’s car, you face a fine between $500 and $1,000 plus up to one year in jail, including a mandatory 30-day jail sentence, unless the court finds there were mitigating circumstances.

Can You Defend Against an Ignition Interlock Violation?

An IID violation is a strict liability offense, which means the prosecutor does not need to prove intent. The prosecutor only needs to prove that you were required to have an IID on the vehicle that you were operating and that you did not have an IID or that you bypassed it.

In most cases, defending against a charge of operating a vehicle without an IID focuses on mitigating circumstances. If you can show that you had a valid reason for operating a vehicle without an IID or bypassing the IID, the judge might not convict you of the crime.

The other defense to charges of violating an IID requirement is to challenge whether the police officer had probable cause to initiate the traffic stop.

Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm, LLC for Defense Against Ignition Interlock Violations

Charges for avoiding an ignition interlock device are challenging to defend. If you are facing criminal charges for an IID violation, you should speak to experienced DUI defense attorney Stephen Lebedevitch.

To contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm, LLC, call 203-212-9067, email stephen@leb-law.com, or complete the online form.