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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > Everything You Need to Know About Ignition Interlock Devices

Everything You Need to Know About Ignition Interlock Devices

Driving Under the Influence. Male hand with bottle of beer.

If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Georgia, your Atlanta DUI lawyer may inform you that the judge has required you to install an interlock ignition device on your vehicle. You may have questions, and rightly so.

There are misconceptions surrounding ignition interlock devices and their use. Here’s what you need to know.


  • In 2016, there were 1,554 traffic fatalities in Georgia.
  • 368 of those fatalities were related to impaired driving.
  • In those 368 fatalities, the impaired person had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater.

1. What is an interlock ignition device?

An interlock ignition device is a portable breathalyzer. Once it’s installed in your vehicle, you are not allowed to remove it. The device is comprised of a handheld unit and a mouthpiece.

The unit is attached to your ignition, and you blow into the mouthpiece in order to be able to start your vehicle. If the machine registers any alcohol on your breath, your vehicle will not start.

2. How much does an interlock ignition device cost?

It’s difficult to determine the cost of having an interlock ignition device installed in your vehicle because there are several factors that come into play. The total cost of your installation will include the lease fee, calibration fee, removal fee and, of course, the installation fee.

The judge may tell you where you have to rent your device from, or they may give you options. If you are given options, you are free to shop around for the best price.

3. How do you get your device?

Once you determine who you will be renting your device from, you will set up an appointment with that company. A technician will install your device for you, help you set up payments, and show you how to use the device.

You won’t be allowed to tinker with the device yourself, and if you do, it could be considered tampering — which could land you in a lot more trouble.

4. How does an interlock ignition device work?

Once the device is installed in your vehicle, you will be required to provide a breath sample every time you want to start the engine. If there is no alcohol detected in your breath, you will be able to insert the key into the ignition and start your vehicle.

You will also have to provide a breath sample at random times during your trip. If at any time you have alcohol detected in your system, your vehicle will flash its light, blow its horn or otherwise draw attention to itself until you pull over and stop the engine.

Fooling an Interlock Ignition Device

People often believe that they can get one over on an interlock ignition device just as they believe they can fool a breathalyzer. These machines are not easy to defeat. Here are some of the ways in which people think they can trick the machine.

1. Have Someone Else Blow

Let’s be honest: This is the first “trick” that people come up with. They think they will slip behind the wheel and have a friend blow into the device for them.

The problem with this is that today’s devices are equipped with cameras. This means that every time a breath is blown into the machine, a picture of the person giving the breath is taken.

2. Drink While Behind the Wheel

This seems logical, albeit hazardous and illegal. You get behind the wheel sober and get your car started. You choose to drink as you are driving because you just beat the machine, and you’ll sober up before you have to start it again.

Unfortunately for you, your device will require that you submit a breath sample at regular intervals during your trip. If the device detects alcohol, your horn will begin to sound and your lights will flash. You won’t be able to stop it.

3. Use a Balloon

Another method that people have tried is to have a sober person blow into a balloon and then use the air in the balloon to “blow” into the mouthpiece.

Your device may surprise you and ask you to inhale or hum to prove you’re human. Your balloon isn’t going to do either. Don’t try this method — it just doesn’t work.

4. Remove the Device

Some people have been known to get so frustrated that they’ve removed their device altogether. This is not only a bad idea, but it’s a bad idea that’s going to get you in trouble. Tampering with your device is a violation of the terms of your sentence and will have you in front of a judge.

If you are given an interlock ignition device, trying to get out of it is a bad idea. Not only will you be in trouble for the new violation, but you may kick in terms outlined in your agreement. Those terms could include jail time, fines and more.

Call an Experienced Atlanta DUI Lawyer Today

When a person is arrested for driving under the influence, they need a DUI lawyer in DeKalb County. Call our office today to discover more about how we can help you. We will review the details of your charges and talk with you about your legal rights. Your first consultation will be held free of charge.

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