Common questions about ignition interlock devices in Arizona

Although Arizona requires all DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device, many questions about this technology still exist.

An ignition interlock is a small device, about the size of a cellphone, that is wired into the ignition of a vehicle. In order to start the car, a driver must blow into the mouthpiece on the dashboard. If the device detects a measurable amount of alcohol on the driver's breath, the car will not start. In Arizona, according to the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the requirement to use an ignition interlock device is a penalty for all drivers found guilty of drunk driving.

Can a person drive a vehicle without one of these devices?

After a DUI conviction, the only vehicle that drivers are allowed to operate is the one with the ignition interlock device in it. The Arizona Department of Transportation states that if a person is found driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock device after a DUI conviction, at the end of this initial penalty period, the person will have to use one of these devices in the car that he or she drives for another 12 months.

What if the driver does not own a vehicle?

Drivers do not necessarily have to own the vehicle they drive to use an ignition interlock device. The ADOT states that until the Motor Vehicle Department receives notice that the driver has installed one of these devices in the vehicle they operate on a regular basis, their driving privileges will remain revoked.

Does the MVD need notification of installation?

Drivers do not need to notify the MVD that they had an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle because the installation company automatically does this for them. However, for a driver to become legally allowed to drive after receiving a DUI, they must take the verification form the installer gave them into the MVD.

Is the interlock device monitored?

When a driver has an ignition interlock device installed in their car following a DUI conviction, the installation company provides regular reports to the MVD regarding its usage. Drivers may be required to use the device for an additional six to twelve months if a report indicates that one of the following situations occurred:

  • The driver attempted to tamper with the device.
  • There is a sign that suggests the driver failed to comply with the device's requirements.
  • The driver tried to avoid using the ignition interlock device before starting their vehicle.

If a driver tries to tamper with or avoid using the ignition interlock device in their car, the ADOT states they will receive notice of the requirement to extend their usage period from the MVD. However, these extension requirements are not always warranted. Drivers who are believed to be guilty of violating the terms of their ignition interlock agreement should speak with an attorney who can defend their legal rights.

Keywords: DUI, ignition interlock, drunk driving, arrest