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Are ignition interlock devices required in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Most people know that a DWI can result in serious, long-lasting consequences. In addition to fines, fees and potential jail time, individuals might even lose their driving privileges for a period of time.

Even when they get their license restored, it could come with a catch. There are some cases when individuals might have to install an ignition interlock device. These devices are essentially portable Breathalyzers, testing the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) before they can even start their vehicle.

Ignition interlock devices are usually required for repeat offenses, but some states now require them after the first offense.

Many states require ignition interlock devices after a first offense

Over the years, several states passed laws that require individuals to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle after the first DWI. These laws, often referred to as “all-offender” ignition interlock device laws, aim to:

  • Prevent individuals from driving under the influence; and
  • Reduce the chance of a repeat DWI offense.

New Mexico became the first state to establish such a law in 2005. However, as of 2019, 34 states now have similar laws, including our neighboring states of Virginia and Tennessee.

Does North Carolina have this requirement?

North Carolina lawmakers considered a bill proposing an all-offender ignition interlock device law in 2015, but it did not pass.

Even so, there are some situations when North Carolina law requires the installation of an ignition interlock device. These circumstances include:

  • After a first DWI, only if an individual’s BAC is 0.15 or higher
  • After any repeat DWI offenses or offenses leading to license revocation
  • If the DWI charges involve aggravating factors

Installing these devices is often a hassle for individuals. It is expensive since you must cover the costs of installation and use of the device, and they can be cumbersome and frustrating for drivers. For example, in some cases, the device might require a breath test while an individual is driving.

Even if an ignition interlock device is not a requirement after the first offense in North Carolina, individuals should still ensure they take measures to defend the charges against them and avoid the financial and personal consequences of a DWI.