Will I Need an Ignition Interlock Device after a First DUI in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
January 21, 2021

In an effort to protect the roads from drunk drivers and reduce repeat offenses, there has been a movement toward stricter penalties for first-time DUI offenders in Southeast Pennsylvania. Today, driving under the influence carries a variety of consequences for first-time DUI offenders, including the potential installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID—sometimes referred to as a car breathalyzer—is a special device that’s installed in a person’s car to prevent them from drinking and driving.

However, despite IIDs becoming a standard penalty for those charged with DUI, the obligation to install this type of device isn’t necessarily automatic. Learn more about where you stand after your DUI arrest and how you can protect yourself from DUI-related penalties associated with a conviction.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An IID is installed on motor vehicles to prohibit an individual under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. An individual is required to blow into the device before starting the vehicle and if the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. In addition, at random times during the operation of the vehicle, the individual will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they’re not under the influence.

Ignition interlock systems are not cheap, with the average cost to lease the device being between $900 and $1,300 per year. The person required to install the system bears responsibility for that cost.

Are You Obligated to Install an IID after Your First DUI Arrest?

Over the past decade, more and more states have joined the ranks of those with stringent ignition interlock laws on the books. In the past, a first-time DUI arrest in Pennsylvania required the installation of an IID for only those who fell under certain categories.

Previously, necessitating the installation of an IID device was typically left up to the presiding judge’s discretion. Unless the person was a repeat offender, the IID penalty was imposed on a subject-by-subject basis, typically depending on several factors, including the driver’s BAC, whether anyone was harmed, whether any property was damaged, and the defendant’s prior criminal background.

Pennsylvania Act 33

A new ignition interlock law—part of Act 33 that took effect in August 2017—makes installing an IID mandatory for first-time and repeat DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels and for people who refuse chemical testing. More specifically, any driver who has a BAC of 0.10 percent or higher will be required to install an IID in their vehicle if they wish to drive. If you’re a first-time offender but had a BAC of less than 0.10 percent, you won’t be required to install an IID.

Act 33 also establishes the rules and regulations surrounding ignition interlock limited licenses. An ignition interlock limited license permits an individual to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an interlock system during their suspension or revocation if they meet certain requirements.

After applying for this license, you must show that your vehicle is indeed outfitted with an IID. That device must stay in the car for the duration of the limited license period. To stay in compliance, you must avoid device violations, pay all fines and fees associated with the device, and participate in mandatory recalibration services.

Who Is Not Eligible for an IID?

It’s important to note that not everyone is eligible for an IID, even if they wish to install one. Those who are not eligible include:

  • Anyone whose driving privileges have been canceled or revoked
  • Those not licensed to drive in Pennsylvania
  • Anyone with a commercial driver’s license who wishes to operate a commercial vehicle
  • Anyone facing homicide-related DUI charges

Several other niche categories pertain. An expert DUI lawyer will best be able to help you determine your eligibility based on the circumstances of your arrest.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, act quickly and contact an attorney. The Southeast Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford understand how challenging this time can be for you—especially if this is your first DUI arrest. We’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. Our highly trusted legal team understands the ins and outs of Pennsylvania DUI defense law and will be with you every step of the way.

For nearly 68 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving the legal needs of clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Philadelphia. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems, including DUI defense law. Our attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Call (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
January 21, 2021
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.