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North Carolina Ignition Interlock Device

Losing your driver’s license may be one of the penalties for a DWI conviction in North Carolina. That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced DWI defense attorney like Bill Powers of the Law Offices of Powers McCartan. As a Board-Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Bill Powers focuses a substantial amount of time and effort into the defense of this area of law and understands how losing your license can affect your life. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, one option for keeping you on the road may be the installation of an ignition interlock device.

The ignition interlock device requires you to first blow into the device before it will start your engine. The ignition interlock is supposed to detect the existence of any amount of alcohol in your breath, although there is a certain amount of variance allowed.  Presently, the only company lawfully authorized and/or recognized in North Carolina is Monitech.  The ignition interlock device normally will have a preset blood alcohol content level in the range of .02%.  If it detects this amount of alcohol on your breath, or more, it will prevent you from starting your vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set standards for the ignition interlock devices; those that meet their standards allow for a running or rolling retest. This means that every few minutes while driving, you’ll have to again blow into the machine to make certain there is no alcohol in your breath. This was created to curb other friends and family members from blowing into the machine for a driver simply to start their engine for him or her. As technology has progressed, these machines have become almost impossible to tamper with—especially when they are monitored every few weeks.  A positive reading on the ignition interlock, if obtained during a rolling or running test, will cause your horn to honk in an alarm fashion and may also cause your headlights to blink on an off. Obviously it would be dangerous to just shut off your vehicle in the middle of the road. The purpose of the blinking lights and honking horn are to draw the attention of other motorists, which may also include the police. That may be reasonable suspicion for the police to stop your vehicle.

Ignition interlock devices (for the most part) make both the state of North Carolina and those accused of DWI happy -- the state doesn’t have to worry about the person driving drunk and the driver may have the opportunity, given certain legal prerequisites, to continue driving to work. However, you should know that the ignition interlock device will be installed in your vehicle at your expense (another reason why the state likes this program…it doesn’t affect tax payers). The maintenance fee can be considerable.  In North Carolina, you will be required (at minimum) to go to the Monitech facility for maintenance and a “datum dump” where every attempt to start your vehicle is recorded via an onboard computer. That information is sent to the Department of Transportation/Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for review.  If it is determined that you have repetitive positive readings, you may be subject to revocation of your license.  In certain circumstances, evidence of positive readings could affect a suspended sentence by the court if you have been ordered to refrain from any drinking or associate with people known to have consumed alcohol. 

Interested in learning more? Contact DWI defense attorney Bill Powers. He can start building your defense and can discuss whether or not the ignition interlock may be required. Act fast and complete a free online case evaluation form to get started.

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