Not all states use ignition interlock devices, but Louisiana state law does give judges the power to assign them in DWI cases. The device is fairly simply in design: It forces you to essentially take a breath test before you can start your car, and it locks out the ignition system if alcohol is detected. Being forced to use this system is one of the biggest things to consider when facing such charges and formatting your defense. Below are five things you must know about ignition interlock laws within the state.
1. You get a restricted license with the system in place.
Without it, you won’t be allowed to drive at all. If you’re caught driving, anyway, this could result in an arrest and more legal penalties, so the ignition system is one way to at least get back on the road – allowing you to get to work, go to school, and the like.
2. The amount of convictions helps determine the length of use.
The amount of DWI convictions you have can change the length of use. For example, for a first offense, you may just need to use it for a year, but a second offense can mean you have to use it for three years.
3. It is illegal to use other vehicles.
It may seem simple to get around the device. Just stop driving your car, lease another one, and drive that one instead. However, doing so is illegal unless the new lease also has a device installed. The same is true for rental cars and cars borrowed from friends and family members.
4. You can’t have another person pass the test.
Another common idea for getting around the device is to simply have a sober friend blow into the device, starting the car and allowing you to drive even if you’ve been drinking. This is expressly illegal, as is tampering with the device to try to get around it. Some devices even make you take repeated tests, which could shut down your car halfway home if you can’t pass.
5. There are exceptions for work vehicles.
You’ll have to make sure that your employer is notified and approves it, but you can have an exception made allowing you to drive a work vehicle without a device. This is needed for truck drivers, delivery drivers, and so forth. However, you can only use the work vehicle for specific work purposes, not to run personal errands or to otherwise treat it as a personal vehicle after hours.
As you can see, an ignition interlock device can be very limiting and rather invasive, so it’s crucial to know how these work and when they can be issued. If you’re facing potential DWI charges, knowing the stakes can be useful while determining the best defense strategy and ensuring that you get a fair trial and just sentencing.