Georgia law concerning driving privileges stemming from a DUI arrest has recently changed as of July 1, 2017. Driver’s charged with a DUI who allegedly refused to take a state administered test can now install an interlock device on their vehicle for 12 months and drive with a limited permit versus facing a 12-month license suspension. There are many questions surrounding the installation of interlock for those charged with a first DUI in 5 years. Although the installation of interlock will allow those who want to fight their case to continue to drive, there are also several drawbacks and concerns a driver should consider before deciding to install interlock. Making a decision on whether to submit an ALS appeal (LINK) or waiving an ALS hearing and installing interlock is a strategic decision and should be discussed with a Georgia DUI attorney before the expiration of the 30-day window. Below are some important concerns to consider before deciding to install interlock on your vehicle.
Requirements for Interlock Eligibility:
1. Person must be licensed in Georgia
2. Person must be 21 or over of turn 21 within 30 days of the DUI arrest
3. No Prior DUI convictions within a preceding 5year period
4. DUI cannot stem from an accident involving serious injuries or fatalities
5. Drivers who hold a CDL license will automatically be downgraded to a noncommercial driver’s license
A driver has 30 calendar days from the date of a DUI arrest to install an interlock device on their vehicle and subsequently obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit (IILP). Many drivers mistakenly wait until the last few days of their 30-day window to contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer which can cause a major strategic decision to be severely limited. Obtaining an initial incident report or accident report before deciding on whether to install an interlock device on your vehicle is beneficial to determine the best course of action, and this most likely is not possible if there are a mere couple of days left before the 30-day expiration.
Additionally, many interlock providers schedule in advance for the installation of interlock. On average, most providers suggest preparing for 2-5 business days delay between calling to schedule appointment and when the installation occurs. To find a certified interlock provider, click below:
Installation on average takes 1-2 hours depending on the type of vehicle and the wiring needed for installation. Interlock cannot be installed on a motorcycle.
While installation occurs, many providers will show a training video on how to use the device and provide hands on trouble shooting training to ensure you know how to use the device properly.
Permitted Driving Purposes under Ignition Interlock Limited Permit:
1. To and From work and regular duties of driver’s occupation
2. Medical care including obtaining prescription medications
3. To and from school or college where the driver is enrolled
4. Attending treatment including outpatient care, AA & NA meetings, and DUI school
5. Attending Court
6. Reporting for community service or probation meetings
7. Transporting unlicensed family members to work, school or for medical needs
8. Attending any court ordered accountability court
9. Monthly monitoring appointments at an interlock device service provider
Breakdown of Costs:
An arrest for DUI can be very costly. After you pay the bond, attorney fees, DUI classes and fines, a DUI can cause a financial burden for many drivers. The cost of installing, maintaining and removing the interlock device should be considered before deciding to install the device and waive your ALS hearing. Prices are subject to different providers, but many interlock providers price their services competitively to attract customers like any other business. Below is an estimated break down of the costs associated with an interlock device:
$75 Installation fee paid to the interlock provider
$25 Permit fee paid to Georgia DDS to obtain an Ignition Interlock limited permit
$75 x 12 months as a monthly monitoring fee paid to the interlock provider
$75 Removal Service Fee paid to the Interlock Provider at time of removal
$100 Removal Certificate Fee paid to Georgia DDS to obtain form to remove interlock
$210 Reinstatement Fee paid to Georgia DDS to reinstate the limited permit to a full license
Georgia law requires monthly monitoring for those with interlock installed on their vehicle. You must physically report to your interlock service provider for these monthly check-ins. At the check-in appointments, a service technician will download the reported data from the interlock device for the previous 30 days and download it directly to a DDS server where DDS can view any violations for the preceding 30 days.
Many drivers may find it difficult to manage their time working on community service, DUI school, various treatment and AA meetings. Additionally, an interlock holder must report in monthly for scheduled downloads and monitoring. If you have a strict work schedule that allows for little flexibility, this is something to consider when deciding if interlock is right for you.
Using the Device:
Technology has come a long way in the last couple decades, but no technology is perfect including the interlock device. One of the biggest issues with interlock devices is the inability to discern between actual alcohol and sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohol or alcohol found outside of typical alcoholic beverages can cause a failed test. Here are a few beverages and foods to avoid before blowing into the interlock device:
1. Fruit Juice – Fruit Juice can ferment and the sugar alcohols emitted from the fermenting process can cause a false positive
2. Energy Drinks
3. Activated yeast commonly found in pizza dough
5. Medicines such as Dayquil and Nyquil
A good practice is to keep a bottle of water in your car to rinse your mouth before testing. Always make sure your mouthpiece is dry before blowing into the device as this can cause a bad reading. Many interlock providers will provide extra mouth pieces free of charge at the time of installation.
Drivers who decide to install interlock are bound to a zero-tolerance policy. The device is designed to detect any measurable alcohol. Therefore, even though the legal limit is .08 grams, any measurable alcohol will cause a failed test which is then reported to DDS.
Re-Testing While Operating Your Vehicle:
A negative breath sample into the device is required to start the vehicle. Additionally, interlock devices utilize random re-testing while the vehicle is operated. These re-tests are completely random and are required to avoid a reported violation. A failed or missed test will not shut the vehicle off, but it will report a violation that will download to DDS at your monthly monitoring appointment.
When a re-test is requested, the device will beep and alert you to provide a sample. You will have 3 minutes to provide a sample. Many systems will give a grace period if a sample is not provided within 3 minutes before it reports a violation of a missed test. The device is connected to the front dash board with a long telephone-like curly cord that stretches to allow a test while operating the vehicle if the driver chooses to do so. Distracted driving is dangerous and pulling over to provide a sample when safe to do so is always best. If a driver is unable to stop the vehicle, the device does not require the driver to push any buttons; it only requires the driver blow into the device.
Missing A Required Monthly Monitoring Appointment:
Monthly monitoring to your interlock service provider is required under O.C.G.A 42-8-112 and failure to report will result in a violation and a possible revocation of your limited permit.
An interlock provider is required to notify the Department of Driver Services if a driver fails to report within 30 days. Upon receipt of an unsatisfactory report from a provider, DDS will immediately suspend a driver’s limited permit. A driver has a right to a hearing on the alleged violation. The process of requesting and attending violation hearing is not designed for self-service and should be done by a Georgia DUI attorney. A request for the hearing must be mailed to Georgia DDS within 30 days of the start of the suspension along with payment of $250.00.
This violation hearing conducted by the Office of State Administered Hearings (OSAH) is very limited in scope. If the court finds the driver failed to report to the interlock provider within 30 days for any reason other than those listed below, the permit is revoked for one year for the first violation and five years for a subsequent violation. The allowable excuses for a missed appointment outlined in O.C.G.A 42-8-112 are as follow:
1. Medical Necessity with written evidence from a licensed doctor;
2. Incarceration of the driver;
3. The driver was required to be at work and would have been terminated if he or she was not at work and the driver shows proof of such;
4. The vehicle with the installed interlock device was rendered inoperable because of a collision, fire or major mechanical failure.
Do not assume that you can defend yourself without the help of a Georgia Interlock Attorney. The violation hearing for the revocation of an IILP is a very low standard and can be difficult to win.
Violations and Penalties:
O.C.G.A 42-8-118 provides for a conviction of a misdemeanor for any driver who is found guilty of:
1. Requesting or soliciting another person to blow into an ignition interlock device to provide the driver that has a restricted permit to operate the vehicle;
2. Providing a breath sample for another driver that is required to operate a vehicle with an interlock installed device; or
3. Tampering with an interlock device
Additionally, pleading guilty to a traffic violation while licensed under an interlock limited permit will suspend the driver’s limited license for six months for a first violation, and two years for a subsequent violation.
Furthermore, those driving under an ignition limited permit to satisfy a 2nd DUI in 5-year sentence or more may face a license suspension in the event of a probation violation. O.C.G.A 40-5-64.1 requires the disciplining court to report a probation violation to the department of driver services which then results in a suspension.
Practice Note: Many courts are not aware of this statute and therefore do not submit the violation to driver services causing the driver’s limited permit to remain valid.
Removal of the Interlock Device:
Removing an interlock device can be a difficult and time-consuming process. First, the driver must visit their interlock provider to obtain records to show the driver is in complete compliance without pending violations. The driver then makes the trip to driver services with the files in hand including satisfactory monthly reports for each month the driver maintained the interlock device on their vehicle.
Driver Services will issue a certificate of removal for which they charge $100. Once the certificate of removal is issued, the driver then takes the certificate back to their interlock provider and has the device removed. The interlock provider also charges a removal fee which is usually between $75-$100. After removal of the device, the interlock provider provides documentation of the removal for which the driver can take back to driver services to reinstate their license.
Lastly, the driver must pay a $210 reinstatement fee to driver services to reinstate their license from a limited permit back to full driving privileges. In total, the removal process for the interlock device will cost a driver over $400.
If the interlock removal is pursuant to a 2nd in 5 DUI conviction or more, the driver must also show proof of evaluation as well as required treatment to reinstate their license.