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How do ignition interlock devices work?

As a resident in California who has been convicted of a DUI, it's possible that you may have to deal with an ignition interlock device. Many people including yourself may know the basics of these devices, or at least what their main purpose is, but what are the finer details? Just how do they work?

LifeSafer lists out several different features that ignition interlock devices may have. There's the most basic feature, which is the "initial test". This is the test most people are familiar with, in which you have to breathe into the device before you're able to start the car. The device won't allow the engine to engage if it detects any alcohol on your breath. The duration of being locked out of your car can last minutes initially, and lengthen during subsequent failures. Data is also collected and sent to the Department of Motorized Vehicles and the court that you went to. Be mindful of the fact that all test failures will be recorded.

There's also something called a "rolling re-test" for some devices. If your device implements a rolling re-test, then you will be prompted to breathe into the device while driving later. This ensures that you haven't been drinking and driving after passing the initial test. The car won't shut off if you don't pass the test, but it may cause your lights or horn to go off in an attempt to force you to pull over.

On a whole, these devices are considered a beneficial way of coping with DUI convictions. Not only do they protect other people on the road, but they also allow you to continue attending work, school, and so on, which is invaluable to many.

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