Ross Koplin

The Colorado Ignition Interlock Program As Of January 1, 2014

The Colorado Ignition Interlock Program

The Colorado Ignition Interlock Program

The law in Colorado offers an incentive to certain drivers who have been determined by the Colorado Department of Revenue to have been driving under the influence of alcohol, with a test revealing a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher at the time of the offense, to receive an early reinstatement of their driver’s license when they agree to install an “ignition interlock device” on their vehicle. This program provides a way for the State of Colorado to make sure offenders do not continue to drive while intoxicated, while also offering individuals a legal way to continue driving while serving the remainder of their suspension.

This program was significantly changed, with an expansion of the use of ignition interlock devices in certain circumstances, as of January 1, 2014. For instance, first time offenders who refused an alcohol test prior to 2014 had to wait an extended period prior to being able to drive. Subsequent to January 1, 2014, first time offenders who refuse an alcohol test generally have some period of no driving, but in lieu of an extended period of no driving whatsoever, people who refuse a test, at least the first time, are able to reinstate with an alcohol interlock device much sooner.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An ignition interlock device disables the vehicles ignition system until the driver provides a breath sample. The technology used in the interlock system is similar to the Breathalyzer used during roadside sobriety tests. Like the Breathalyzer, the interlock detects alcohol in the driver’s system.

A state approved provider installs the interlock device in the motor vehicle near the ignition switch. If a driver with alcohol in their system attempts to start a vehicle with an IID installed, the device will lock out the vehicle’s ignition system preventing it from starting. In addition to the alcohol check on ignition, the interlock system also monitors a driver’s breath for the presence of alcohol randomly while driving. If the interlock device finds alcohol in the driver’s system while driving, the interlock system disables the vehicle.

While in the interlock program, the offender must pay all costs associated with the IID, there are financial assistance options available to some drivers under certain circumstances. These costs include installation, rental and servicing. While in the interlock program, the offender must have the device serviced by a state approved provider every 60 days at their own expense. The State takes this obligation seriously, since the success of the program depends on the equipment functioning properly.

If at any time the offender fails too many breath tests, tampers with the IID, or fails to meet the service schedule, the offender will be subject to a license suspension with no driving for a certain period. Driving privileges can also be suspended if the authorized provider cancels the interlock lease agreement for any reason and until such time as the driver has initiated a new interlock agreement approved by the Colorado Department of Revenue – Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

As of January 1, 2014 Colorado has emphasized enhanced penalties for individuals who are considered Persistent Drunk Drivers. Persistent Drunk Drivers not only include repetitive drunk drivers, but also other instances that are considered egregious under Colorado law.

Drivers whose BAC exceeds .149, who has previous alcohol-related driving offenses, continues to drive after a driver’s license restraint has been imposed for an alcohol related offense, or who refuses BAC testing will be classified as a “Persistent Drunk Driver” and may be required to have an interlock device on all vehicles they may drive for 2 years after license reinstatement in addition to being required to complete a level II alcohol treatment course before full reinstatement of their unrestricted license.

What are Other Colorado conditions related to Ignition Interlock Devices?

There are other conditions for driving after multiple alcohol related driving convictions. For instance, if an individual is designated by the Colorado Department of Revenue as a Habitual Traffic Offender, there is, in addition to other penalties, an extended four ignition interlock requirement.

Special rules also apply to individuals who possess a commercial driver’s license, regardless of the type of vehicle in which they were driving when charged with an alcohol related offense. In addition, there are special rules applicable to individuals who are charged with an alcohol related driving offense when under the age of twenty-one (21) years old.

What happens if I fail Multiple Ignition Interlock Device breath tests?

If the alcohol interlock device prevents operation of the vehicle, after detecting alcohol in three of any twelve consecutive months, the interlock restricted driver may be required to keep the interlock device, and be under the interlock restriction, for an additional year. A lockout is defined by statute as any instance where alcohol is detected over 0.025 and prevents the vehicle from staring.

It is possible that some individuals or companies may also use the term “lockout” but often this is used without the same legal definition as set forth under the Colorado interlock law. Normally a driver subject to such an additional suspension is entitled to a hearing at the Colorado Department of Revenue. At the Hearing, the Hearing Officer will review the driver’s record and reports regarding the interlock devise usage and will make a decision regarding whether the person will be required to extend the interlock obligation.

What happens if a person with an interlock-restricted license drives a vehicle without an ignition interlock device or attempts to circumvent the ignition interlock?

If any interlock-restricted driver either drives a non-equipped vehicle, or attempts to bypass, tamper with, or circumvent the proper functioning of the interlock device, the person is subject to a license revocation, with no driving, for one year or the remaining time on the initial interlock requirement, whichever is longer. There is no driving allowed whatsoever by the Colorado Department of Revenue during this period.

A driver subject to such an additional suspension may be entitled to a hearing at the DMV. Upon the DMV Hearing taking place the Hearing Officer will review the driver’s record and reports regarding the interlock device usage and make a decision regarding whether the person will be required to extend the interlock obligation.

What is the possibility for early removal of the Ignition Interlock Device?

If an individual who properly installs an approved ignition interlock device due to a first time alcohol driving offense and had a BAC at the time of the offense of less than 0.150, the person is eligible for the potential of an early removal of the IID. In order to qualify for early removal, in addition to these requirements, the individual must complete four (4) consecutive months of successful driving. Successful driving is defined as four (4) consecutive months where no violations have been reported by your interlock provider.

If a person had a BAC 0.150 or greater at the time of the offense, or has previous alcohol related driving offenses or, for whatever reason, has a requirement to have an interlock installed for more than nine (9) months, it is not possible to shorten the alcohol interlock requirement.

Legal Disclaimer – The information contained at this web site is not intended to be legal advice and all information regarding Colorado criminal law is general content only and should not be relied upon for any specific Colorado criminal law situation. Information on this web site is not intended to be comprehensive and does not cover all the issues, nuances or ramifications related to the topic discussed. This web site may not be updated routinely to reflect the very most current Colorado law.

Individuals should consult an experienced Denver criminal attorney, Denver DUI laywer, or Denver traffic lawyer for advice regarding an individual situation. 

by Ross Koplin

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Ross E. Koplin, Attorney at Law

(303) 831-8924
600 17th Street, Suite 2800 South Denver, Colorado 80202

Ross Koplin is a Traffic Attorney serving the Denver Metro area who provides quality legal representation to those involved in traffic misdemeanors, including prosecution for traffic tickets, speeding tickets, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), or other traffic offenses.

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