Ignition Interlock in California

In California, the need for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is pivotal for several reasons: Firstly, it's a legal requirement under the California Vehicle Code for certain motor vehicle offenders, ensuring compliance with traffic safety regulations. The California DMV mandates the use of IIDs as part of the IID restriction for drivers who've violated specific driving laws, thereby safeguarding driving privileges while promoting road safety.

Furthermore, adherence to the Ignition Interlock device requirement is essential for California drivers seeking to maintain their license status, especially after DUI-related offenses. Law firms often advise their clients on the necessity of installing an IID to comply with these legal stipulations. Lastly, the implementation of IIDs aligns with broader traffic safety goals, helping to reduce repeat offenses and enhancing overall road safety for all California drivers.

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Why Choose Smart Start In California?

Smart Start has helped thousands of drivers in California get back on the road since 1992.

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How Do I Get My License Back in California?

Review our Smart Start resources below, including the step-by-step guide to help you get your license back quickly.

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California Ignition Interlock Laws

On January 1, 2019, California passed Senate Bill 1046, which requires Ignition Interlock Devices for all DUI cases. The law allows those with a license suspension under the Administrative Per Se law to have Ignition Interlock-restricted driving privileges and receive credit toward a required Ignition Interlock restriction period if one is later convicted of a DUI. Individuals arrested for DUI can avoid the 30-day hard suspension if they immediately apply for an Ignition Interlock through the California DMV at 916-657-6525.

Under California law, individuals who face a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law due to a DUI can obtain a driving privilege restricted to the use of an Ignition Interlock device (IID). This allows them to receive credit towards their mandated IID restriction period if they are subsequently convicted of a DUI. These provisions specifically address DUI violations involving alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs but do not extend to DUI offenses involving only drugs.

Courts have the authority to order a non-injury first DUI offender to install a certified Ignition Interlock device (IID) for up to 6 months following a DUI conviction. If not mandated by the court, these offenders may opt for a driver’s license with IID restrictions or other limitations permitting travel to work and DUI treatment programs for 12 months.

This approach to DUI offenses offers an alternative to traditional penalties, reflecting a shift from the previous IID pilot program limited to select counties. Law firms often advise clients on these nuances post-DUI arrest, ensuring that DUI offenders in California are aware of their legal options and requirements.

Below is a typical range regarding how long you’ll need an Ignition Interlock Device in California depending on your individual case circumstances. Your Ignition Interlock period can be longer if any injury is involved.

  • First DUI: Ignition Interlock requirement period: between six months to 12 months
  • Second DUI: Ignition Interlock requirement period: between 12 to 24 months
  • Third DUI: Ignition Interlock requirement period: 24 to 48 months
  • Fourth DUI or More: Ignition Interlock requirement period: 36 to 48 months

For first-time offenders and repeat DUI offenders, your license will be confiscated immediately per California’s Administrative License Revocation (ALR) if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was .01 during DUI probation
  • Your BAC level was .04 while driving a commercial vehicle
  • Your BAC level was .08 or higher while driving a noncommercial vehicle
  • You refused a breath test

In navigating the complexities of California DUI laws, it’s crucial to understand that based on your location, California courts may also require you to install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle (depending on location). This is a vital aspect of California Interlock laws.  You’re required to pay for all costs associated with your California interlock device, from installation, monthly lease payments, service fees to removal.

You may also be required to attend a DUI or substance abuse court referral program, which is often integral to regaining a restricted license. Consulting with a specialized DUI lawyer or a reputable law office is highly recommended to navigate these legal requirements effectively and ensure compliance with the stringent DUI law in California. Their expertise can provide crucial guidance through this process, helping to mitigate the challenges associated with California DUI repercussions. 

The Importance of California Ignition Interlock Laws

  1. Mandatory for DUI Offenders: These laws require the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for individuals charged with a DUI, ensuring they comply with safe driving standards.
  2. Aligned with California Vehicle Code: The laws are in accordance with the California Vehicle Code, reinforcing legal requirements for DUI drivers.
  3. IID Restriction Compliance: Drivers must adhere to IID restrictions, promoting responsible driving behavior post-DUI charge.
  4. Support from Law Firms: Law offices often guide clients through the complexities of IID requirements, emphasizing the importance of legal compliance.
  5. California IID Requirements: The laws ensure that all DUI drivers in California meet the Ignition Interlock device requirement, a crucial step in maintaining public road safety.

How to Get Your License Quickly in California

  1. Contact the California DMV to enroll in a DUI program per your license suspension requirement.
  2. Complete the DMV Form 44 as part of the reinstatement process.
  3. Call your insurance provider to get proof of financial accountability such as an SR-22
  4. Resolve outstanding balances and pay all of your fines.
  5. Contact 1.800.831.3299 to schedule an appointment to have your interlock device installed with an approved Smart Start interlock service provider.
  6. Complete any pending court regulations.

DISCLAIMER: These steps may not be a complete representation of what you must do to regain your license. As DUI case details vary by each individual, please do not see this step-by-step guide as an official process to regaining your license, but rather as a starting point only.

How Much Does a DUI Cost in California?

DUI OffenseJail TimeFee
*IID fees not included
Suspended License Period
First96 hours to 6 months$390 to $1,0006 months
Second96 hours to 1 year$390 to $1,0002 years
Third30 days to 1 year$390 to $1,0003 years; 10 years if more than 3 DUI violations in a 10-year period
Fourth180 days to 1 year or up to 3 years in state penitentiary$390 to $1,0004 years; 10 years if more than 3 DUI violations in a 10-year period

*Additional fees, jail time, and suspension periods may apply.

For additional information and resources to help you regain your license in California, refer to these links:

Frequently Asked Questions

If you get a DUI in California, your license will automatically be suspended.  If you get an attorney, your attorney can file a set-aside that postpones your suspension until your court date.  If you’re in the middle of a 90-day hard suspension, you must not drive, even with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).  To be eligible for an IID, you’ll need to complete your 90-day hard license suspension due to drunk driving, pay all your fees, enroll in a DUI program, and have proof of SR-22 insurance.  After you’ve completed these things, you can find out if you’re eligible for an IID through the Mandatory Actions Unit (MAU), a division of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

In Riverside County, after you get a minute order from the court, you will have five days to contact Riverside University Health System Drinking Driver Program.

ONLY 4 COUNTIES in California order that an IID is mandatory—Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, and Tulare.  In every other county, an IID requirement is at the judge’s discretion. Interlock laws vary by California county, so consult a local DUI attorney for legal advice if facing a DUI charge.

The cost of an Ignition Interlock Device in California varies depending on the provider but typically includes installation fees, monthly lease payments, regular calibration, and maintenance costs, and removal fees at the end of the required period. These costs can be influenced by the specific features of the device, the length of time you need to use it, and any additional services offered by the provider. It’s advisable to contact a certified IID provider like Smart Start® for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information specific to your situation.

Once you have scheduled your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation with Smart Start, you will need to bring the following to your IID installation appointment:

  1. Two valid forms of identification (at least one with a picture)
  2. Vehicle registration (if the vehicle doesn’t belong to you, you’ll need a letter of permission from the registered owner)
  3. Payment for your first month’s lease and installation
  4. Either a DMV or a court order demonstrating the need for an Ignition Interlock Device

Once you have installed your Ignition Interlock Device, you’ll need to bring your DL form (for both conditions) and your case number (if they have a court order) to your State authority.

Smart Start’s IID is compliant with all state and federal requirements, and we are certified as an IID provider by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  You’ll even find us on the DMV-approved list of providers. Our Ignition Interlock Devices are tested and certified to meet the standards set by the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well. Still, you are always welcome to verify our compliance with your State authority.

In the state of California, you are allowed five violations within a service period before your violation will result in a violation lockout.  Once your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) goes into violation lockout, you will need to take your device to your nearest Smart Start service center for a calibration.  You may also have to pay a fee.

California law dictates that your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) needs to be serviced every 30-60 days.  For download services, it is most beneficial if you arrive at a Smart Start service center every 30 days for service.

In the state of California, the general Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirements for a DUI are offender as follows:

  • 1st DUI offense: five months with an Ignition Interlock Device
  • 2nd DUI offense: 12 months with an Ignition Interlock Device
  • 3rd DUI offense: 18 months with an Ignition Interlock Device
  • 4th DUI offense: 24 months with an Ignition Interlock Device

In order to remove your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in the state of California, you will need some kind of authorization from your State authority and/or the DMV (MAU).  Once you have that authorization, you can call 800.831.3299 to schedule your removal, or email removals@smartstartinc.com to verify your eligibility for removal and schedule your appointment.

In the state of California, if you have an IID requirement, but you don’t own a vehicle, you will need to borrow a vehicle to comply with your ignition interlock requirement.

Yes.  California state law dictates that any vehicle you drive during your requirement needs to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed.  Additionally, any vehicle registered to you will also need to have an interlock Ignition Device installed.

California state law allows you to service your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) at any Smart Start service center nationwide.

In the state of California, any and all of the following may constitute a violation:

  1. Having a breath alcohol concentration above the state-dictated level
  2. Skipping a rolling re-test
  3. Attempting to circumvent or tamper with the device
  4. Failure to go in for service

To install a breath alcohol Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle or a family member’s vehicle voluntarily, click the chat window below, fill out our online form, or call Smart Start at 800.831.3299 to speak with one of our customer care advocates and schedule a voluntary installation appointment.

In the state of California, you will only need a camera or a GPS with your Ignition Interlock Device (IID) if your judge orders it.  Smart Start can provide any and all of these additions.

In California, you must receive an order for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation from the State authority (either the California DMV or the court) before you install your Ignition Interlock Device if you want to receive credit for your time with your device.  You will need proof of installation to receive your restricted driver’s license.

No, but your camera may take random pictures in addition to photos of your tests.

“State authority” is a general term for the entity that has ordered you to install the Ignition Interlock Device (IID).  In California, this will be the DMV (MAU) or your court.

The California DMV will only certify and approve Ignition Interlock Device (IID) providers that fit state requirements.  Smart Start is certified and approved as an IID provider in California.  Your State authority will specify any additions to the basic Ignition Interlock Device.  As long as your ignition interlock provider is on the DMV-approved list, you can install with that provider.

You can pay for calibration at the Smart Start service center at the time of service.  Acceptable forms of payment are determined by each individual service center.

Smart Start will automatically send a record of your service appointments to your California State authority on your behalf at no additional cost to you.

No, Smart Start’s Ignition Interlock Device (IID) does not hurt your vehicle.  However, you will need a strong, working battery for the Ignition Interlock Device to function properly.

Motorcycle Ignition Interlock installation laws differ by state. Smart Start operates throughout the U.S. as a certified manufacturer and will work harder than other companies to provide you with a seamless Interlock program that still follows your case requirements in the state of California. Please call our Customer Care Center at 800-831-3299 if you have any questions about motorcycle Ignition Interlock and motor vehicle laws.

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