Georgia’s laws regarding DUIs (driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs) give quite a bit of discretion to judges. This means that there are some penalties that will always apply to intoxicated drivers, while others are up to the judge to decide. Among these penalties is the mandated installation of an ignition interlock device. If you are facing a DUI charge, you may be curious about how these devices work, and how likely it is that you will need one if you are convicted.
What are they?
An ignition interlock device is a small machine that you can install in your car. It controls your car’s ignition, and has the ability to prevent you from being able to start it.
The device contains a breathalyzer machine similar to those that the police use to measure the blood alcohol content of drivers they pull over. Before starting your car, you must breathe into the machine. If it detects alcohol content, you will be unable to start the car.
When might you need one?
Georgia judges have some discretion when it comes to allocating penalties for DUI convictions. Even so, you’re unlikely to need to install an ignition interlock device on your first conviction, except in extreme circumstances. Typically, judges order the installation of these devices after a second or third offense.
Certain factors can make a conviction worse, and thus increase the likelihood that a judge will order the installation of a device. In Georgia, if there are children in the car at the time of your arrest, your misdemeanor DUI charge could be increased by the number of children in the vehicle. For example, if you are pulled over for DUI and three children are in the car, you may be charged for four DUIs.
If you receive a conviction, and if the judge orders you to install an ignition interlock device, you will have to pay for one to be installed in every car that you drive on a regular basis. The judge will decide how long you will have to keep the devices before you can have them removed.
It’s important to remember that, just because you have a criminal charge doesn’t mean that you will have a conviction. You always have the opportunity to prepare and present your defense, and tell your side of the story. DUI lawyers are trained to do this with precision.