DMV Reports on Ignition Interlock Device

Judicial Council of California


The state Department of Motor Vehicles recently released Part I of a
two-part study of the scope of implementation and effectiveness of
California’s Ignition Interlock Device (IID) law. The
IID law, as amended in 1998, requires a person who is convicted of
driving on a DUI-suspended driver’s license to install
an IID on any vehicle that the person owns or operates. (AB 762, Stats.
1998, ch. 756.) In addition, the law authorizes, but does not require,
the court to order installation of an IID upon conviction of a DUI.
Repeat DUI offenders can apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
for a restricted driver’s license after serving half
of their license suspension period if they install an IID.

An IID is a device connected to the ignition of a motor vehicle
consisting of a unit that tests an individual’s
alcohol breath level. A driver with this device on his or her car is
unable to start the vehicle before providing a breath sample. If the
sample exceeds permissible levels of alcohol, the IID locks the motor
vehicle’s ignition and prevents operation of the

The 1998 legislation required the DMV to evaluate the degree to which
the IID law has been implemented in California, and whether IIDs are
effective in reducing DUI recidivism. The DMV’s study
shows that, while court-ordered IIDs have increased, implementation of
the law is “still weak.†Three concerns
have been identified as a barrier to implementation: (1) many offenders
are unable to pay for an IID; (2) many offenders have no vehicle; (3)
monitoring offenders who are ordered to install an IID is time-consuming
and difficult.

The study concluded that IIDs have not been successfully implemented
in California. It indicates, however, that a modified program might be
successful if there was a way to fund the devices for indigent offenders,
deal with offenders who have no vehicle, and restructure the monitoring
of offenders who are ordered to install IIDs.

The study strongly recommends that California’s IID
program not be further modified until the second part of the two-part
study is completed. Implementation of the current law continues to
improve and valuable information will be forthcoming with the second part
of the study, which will evaluate the effectiveness of the IID in

In addition to the official DMV report, the California Association of
Ignition Interlock Service Professionals (IID vendors) also produced a
report in December 2002 of an informal survey conducted by their
association. That report was distributed to, among others, members of the
Legislature, the Judicial Council, and the Commission on Judicial
Performance. In this report and in recent news articles, IID vendors have
criticized the courts for not ordering IIDs more often.

For a copy and further updates on this story see:
update 3/26/05

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