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Where were you arrested? A DUI is a state offense, but each jurisdiction handles them slightly differently.

DUI’s hidden cost: Calibration of the ignition interlock device

Many of the costs of being caught driving under the influence are well-known: jail time, losing your license, paying court fines. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device into your car. Did you know that you have to pay to have the device to be installed and recalibrated, adding to the cost of your DUI?

First, here’s how an ignition interlock device works:

  • It is a breath-analyzing instrument, camera and GPS wired to the ignition and installed on your car’s dashboard.
  • To start the vehicle, you must exhale into the device and if the device senses a blood alcohol level above 0.02, the engine will not start.
  • After the engine starts, the device will at random times require you to again breathe into the device. If you don’t or the sample exceeds the blood alcohol level, the device will log the event, give you a warning and continue to ask for another sample. The device won’t turn off your car once it has been started.

Tampering with the device includes:

  • Disabling or disconnecting
  • Giving a false sample
  • Blocking the camera
  • Allowing another person to breathe into the device

What does it cost?

You have to pay a company to install an ignition interlock device, pay them to calibrate the machine during the time you are required to have it in your car, and pay them to remove it once you have served your sentence.

While some companies calibrate the machine every month, the state only requires that it be calibrated and inspected by a certified installer every 30 days. If you miss a calibration appointment, your driver’s license will be suspended and the time frame that you have to have the device restarts.

Arizona has 12 approved ignition interlock installers. Prices among them vary but some will install the device at no charge while others charge an installation fee; some will charge a monthly rental of between $75 to $100 per month; some offer incentives so that if you pay an entire year’s rent at one time, you get a month free.

Not planning on driving a car while your license is suspended? Doesn’t matter. If you don’t have a vehicle, the ignition interlock requirement will kick in whenever you decide to get a vehicle.

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