Under Florida Motor Vehicles Statutes Section 316.193, certain individuals must install ignition interlock devices (IID) in their vehicles in order to drive. An IID is a type of breathalyzer device that attaches to the vehicle's ignition system. This IID requirement applies to those arrested and convicted of DUI offenses. The IID requirement applies if they obtain reinstatement of a license or are granted a restricted license. Anyone driving in Florida should have a clear understanding of IID laws.
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is a type of breathalyzer that is attached to the ignition of a motor vehicle. The type of ignition interlock device required in Florida uses fuel cell technology that prevents the vehicle from starting until the driver blows into the device and registers a breath alcohol reading below the applicable blood alcohol level (BAL) threshold.
For DUIs that occurred before July 1, 2013, the BAL threshold level for IIDs is 0.05 percent. For DUI arrests after that date, the BAL threshold for IIDs is 0.025 percent. If a driver's BAL is above the threshold level, the car will not start, and they are effectively locked out of driving.
What Is the Purpose of an IID?
Florida law mandates the use of an IID by those convicted of a drunk driving offense if and when they are allowed to drive again. The IID program has two main purposes: An ignition interlock device is intended to prevent someone with a history of drunk driving from operating a vehicle while intoxicated and to guarantee that the driver will remain sober during the entire time they are operating the vehicle.
To that end, those required to use IIDs in Florida must do more than pass the breath test when they begin to drive. They are also subjected to "rolling retests" as they continue to drive the vehicle. The first retest can occur five minutes after the initial breath test. After that, retests are required about every 30 minutes. When a retest is required, the driver must provide a new breath test. They have three minutes to do so, so they can pull over and stop if they need to. If they do not retest, an alarm sounds. The device records the data which is sent through an internet-based reporting program to the driver’s probation officer.
According to the Florida Safety Council, the state's comprehensive IID program has led to a reduction of new DUI offenses by those convicted of drunk driving offenses in the state. That reduction is estimated to be 40 to 95 percent.
Who Must Install an IID in Florida?
If a person has been convicted of a DUI in Florida, they may be required to install an ignition interlock device to regain driving privileges. For a first DUI conviction, the court can order IID use for up to six months. If the person's BAL for the DUI conviction was 0.15 or more or if there was a minor in the vehicle, a six-month or longer IID term is mandatory. For a second conviction, a one-year term of using the IID is mandatory, raised to two years if the driver's BAL is elevated or there was a minor in the car. For subsequent offenses, the IID period is at least two years.
The IID period begins to run if and when the person is permitted to drive again. This does not mean when they win the right to reinstatement. Rather, the period begins to run when the IID "P" restriction is placed on their driving record and the license reinstated. This could happen when a driver applies to have a suspended license reinstated or a revoked license replaced. It also can be a condition of a hardship license. The driver must get an IID installed in their vehicle before visiting a driver's license service center to have the "P" restriction added.
What Is a Hardship License?
In Florida, a driver whose license has been suspended or revoked can apply for a hardship license in some circumstances. This license allows someone to drive only to certain locations. One type of hardship license allows the person to drive to and from work, as well as to locations necessary to perform employment responsibilities, and also to school or to the hospital. A stricter type of hardship license only allows the person to drive to work.
Some drivers convicted of a first-offense DUI can apply for a hardship reinstatement and must install an ignition interlock device for six months. This is the case if their BAL when arrested was 0.15 percent or higher. For a second DUI conviction, the driver can apply only for a hardship reinstatement after a year and must install and use an IID for a year. Two years of IID use are mandatory if the person's BAL for the second DUI was 0.15 percent or above.
For a third conviction within 10 years, a driver cannot apply for hardship reinstatement for two years, and the IID period is at least two years.
What Vehicles Must Have an IID?
Under Florida law, a driver ordered to install an IID must do so in every vehicle they own or drive regularly. A driver who does not own or routinely operate a motor vehicle cannot get their license reinstated. as the IID requirement is part of the license recovery process.
A driver can operate an employer's vehicle for job-related purposes without having an IID installed in it if they meet these conditions:
- They must have an IID installed in their own vehicle.
- They must get a hardship license or a reinstated license with a “P” restriction.
- They must have written permission from their employer.
Note that the person must own or routinely use a personal vehicle and have an IID installed in it to be eligible for reinstatement of a license.
What Does an IID Cost?
Generally, a driver convicted of a DUI bears all costs of installing an ignition interlock device. While the costs can vary, in general, they include a refundable deposit of about $100, an installation fee of around $70 and a monthly fee of around $70 to cover calibration and monitoring of the device. Florida has certified seven IID vendors, and a Florida driver is required to use one of them.
If a person cannot afford the installation of an IID, they may bring this to the court's attention by a motion. The court can order that a part of the driver's fines be used to cover installation costs. In addition, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FHSMV) department, working with the certified Florida IID vendors, offers discounts for IID services for qualified applicants.
What Happens for IID Law Violations?
If a driver blows into the IID breathalyzer and their breath is over the threshold, this is registered by the machine, and the information forwarded to the person's probation. Two such tests will result in a violation. Likewise, any refusal to submit to a required rolling retest or a rolling retest above the limit is a violation. If the device reports equipment tampering, it is also a violation.
When this happens, the FHSMV will send the convicted person a violation letter, which requires them to contact a DUI Provider Program within 20 days and schedule an appointment. There is a fee for an appointment and a larger fee for a missed appointment.
The DUI program discusses the IID violation with the driver and reports back to the FHSMV. Repeat violations can result in revoked driving privileges.
- Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Ignition Interlock Program
- Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Ignition Interlock Program FAQs
- Florida 2019 Motor Vehicles Statutes: Section 332.271
- Florida 2019 Motor Vehicles Statutes: Section 316.193
- United Safety Council: Ignition Interlock Device – IID
- Car Breathalyzer Help: I have a Florida Interlock Requirement But I Don’t Have a Car
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.