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Ignition interlock devices: failures, infractions, more

As many of our Arizona DUI defense blog’s readers know, everyone convicted of drunk driving in our state faces some of the harshest penalties in the nation. A first offense means that “you will be jailed for not less than 10 consecutive days and fined not less than $1,250,” the Arizona Department of Transportation says. You’ll also be required “to equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device.”

Unfortunately, ignition interlock devices can register false readings. A single infraction can result in an extension of your interlock penalty for a full year.

Another problem with these devices is that in many cases people don’t understand how they operate and wind up doing something that causes it to send a signal to officials that indicates someone has tried tampering with it.

Authorities strongly advise motorists not to try tampering or otherwise defeating these sophisticated devices. Some drivers have tried to circumvent them in the following ways:

  • Have a friend blow into it: some interlock devices are equipped with cameras that visually detect who has used it. All interlock devices require retests while the vehicle is being operated, making it difficult to defeat the device repeatedly.
  • Using compressed air: the devices have heat sensors that detect whether a person blew into it or not.
  • Covering the scent of alcohol: because the ignition interlock devices do not detect odor, this tactic has no effect. The gadgets are designed to detect the presence of alcohol in the driver’s breath, not the smell of alcohol.

If you’ve been notified of a violation, you have just 15 days to request a hearing to contest the alleged infraction. You have the right to be represented by a qualified DUI defense attorney experienced in protecting driving privileges.

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