Understanding Wisconsin’s Ignition Interlock Device Laws

Drunk Driving

A Wisconsin drunk driving charge has the potential to upend many parts of your life if it winds up leading to a conviction, and it may impact you financially, professionally and otherwise. In addition to paying fines, attending substance abuse treatment and possibly having to spend time in jail, you may also find that you need an ignition interlock device to drive again.

Just what is an ignition interlock device, and what should you expect if the state mandates that you have one?

How the device works

An ignition interlock device is something you install on your vehicle that prevents it from powering up until you produce a sufficient, alcohol-free breath sample. You should also expect to have to provide periodic breath samples while using the vehicle, which prevents users from potentially having someone else blow into the device to start the car. You also have to pay for the installation and ongoing maintenance of your device for as long as you have it, which may add up to a considerable sum.

Who needs the device

How may you know if you should expect to have to install an ignition interlock device following an operating while intoxicated conviction? All repeat-OWI offenders in Wisconsin must install an ignition interlock device for a set period. Similarly, if you were a first-time OWI offender and your blood alcohol concentration was 0.15% or higher, you will also need the device. If authorities stop you and you refuse to provide a breath or chemical sample, this, too, warrants the installation and use of an ignition interlock device.

Once a judge orders you to use an ignition interlock device, you cannot drive any other vehicle that does not have a device installed on it. Tampering with the device in any manner, or having someone else blow into it on your behalf, has the potential to lead to additional serious legal trouble.

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