Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) act as personal breathalyzers. They detect a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) before allowing the driver to start their vehicle. But how do ignition interlock devices detect breath alcohol?
Use this article to review the processes used by IIDs to monitor BAC levels. You can also go over the uses of IIDs in the state of California with the Simmrin Law Group. Reach out to us at (310) 997-4688 to get more information about laws on alcohol use.
Alcohol Detection by an IID in California
Alcohol is absorbed into a driver’s bloodstream after it is consumed. As the alcohol moves around the driver’s body, it is pumped through the lungs, where some of it is exhaled. IIDs measure the alcohol exhaled from the lungs.
IIDs measure BAC using an ethanol fuel cell sensor. This sensor assesses BAC through an electrochemical process. Put simply, an IID works when:
- A driver blows into the handheld breathalyzer device
- Alcohol on the driver’s breath reaches a catalytic electrode
- The electrode produces an electric current
- The current travels to the electrical control unit (ECU)
- The ECU stops the vehicle from starting
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BAC Levels Assessed by an IID
Most drivers in California are legally expected to keep their BAC under 0.08% when operating a vehicle. This restriction is harsher after a driver is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). Drivers convicted of a DUI and ordered to place an IID in their vehicle must keep their BAC under the legal limit.
This means that drivers with a court-ordered IID in their vehicle will be unable to drive if their BAC registers even minimal amounts of alcohol.
IIDs Detect Traces of Alcohol for a Long Time
Alcohol can take a lengthy amount of time to dissipate from a driver’s system. Common knowledge says that it takes an hour for each alcoholic beverage consumed to be processed by the body, but this doesn’t always hold true.
Drivers may process alcohol at a varied rate depending upon their metabolism, gender, weight, or how much they had to eat while they were drinking. Generally, drivers are advised to overestimate how long it will take their body to process alcohol when using an IID in California.
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IIDs Are Not Fail-Proof at Alcohol Detection
IIDs are designed to prevent drivers from operating a motor vehicle while inebriated. Unfortunately, these devices are sometimes fallible. They may return false-positive results if a driver used an everyday product that contains trace amounts of alcohol or other triggering substances, including:
- Energy drinks
- Breath spray
Additionally, some foods contain trace amounts of alcohol. Some cooks add bourbon to pecan pie, for example. Eating these foods before using an IID can cause the device to lock out a driver’s vehicle, preventing them from driving even though they are not inebriated.
If you record a false-positive on an IID, you can get legal help from a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Just call (310) 997-4688 to get professional legal assistance.
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Results of Alcohol Detection by an IID
IIDs that detect alcohol on a driver’s breath will prevent the driver from operating a vehicle for a set period of time. After this period of time, drivers are allowed to re-test. Additional failures will continue to lock out a driver.
Note that drivers are also required to take “random” tests while operating their vehicle. Drivers will generally be informed beforehand that a test is imminent, allowing them to find a place to stop their vehicle.
Some drivers perform these random tests while still driving. A fail in this circumstance will not automatically stop their vehicle, but it will be recorded and reported.
Avoid an IID with Professional Legal Help
As you can see, installing an IID in your vehicle can lead to a number of complications for your life. You may be able to avoid orders to install an IID if you contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles as soon as you are arrested for a DUI.
The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group know what it takes to help clients accused of DUIs in California. You can speak with our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles to get prompt help. Depending upon your situation, we may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We can even focus on defending you in the court system.
Handle DUI Charges with Criminal Defense Lawyers
Ignition interlock devices detect breath alcohol with specialized sensors. If these devices detect raised BAC levels you may be unable to drive your vehicle. Take steps to protect your full driving privileges by contacting the Simmrin Law Group for help now. Our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles can provide you with a FREE consultation.
You can reach us when you need legal help by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.