What is Texas’ ignition interlock program?

People in Texas facing DWI charges may be required to participate in or have the option of participating in the state’s ignition interlock program.

Effective Sept. 1, 2015, some people convicted of drunk driving charges in Texas received more options for maintaining certain driving privileges. According to a report from The Dallas Morning News, previous convictions resulted in an automatic driver's license suspension, a consequence that many judges in urban areas refused to amend.

Participation in the program is either voluntary or mandatory, depending on the circumstances of the case. Anyone in facing DWI charges in League City should be aware of the details of the new ignition interlock program.

Who needs an ignition interlock device?

Under state law, anyone who has been convicted of DWI in Texas may have to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles while their driver's license is suspended. First-time offenders may simply have the option of participating in the program, but subsequent offenders, people facing more serious charges and those with a blood alcohol concentration at 0.15 or higher will be required to do so. In some cases, the defendant is able to choose to lose all privileges and avoid the ignition interlock altogether.

First-time offenders who drive a vehicle for work purposes may have to install a device on the employer's vehicle, but second and subsequent offenders will be required to do so if the convictions are within 10 years of each other.

What is the process?

Someone participating in the program will have to pay the required fees before the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a restricted driver's license. According to the DPS, the person's regular driver's license will be cancelled on the 30th day from the time that the person receives notice. The driver will pay for the device to be installed, which must be done at a center that the DPS has certified.

How do ignition interlock devices work?

The device requires a breath sample in order to allow the vehicle to turn on. At any point during a trip, the device may prompt the driver to give another breath sample, though it will not turn off the vehicle. Every sample is recorded, and that information is sent to the DPS. Additionally, these devices are equipped with a camera to ensure that the driver is the one giving the breath sample.

What happens if I violate the IID laws?

The DPS outlines several types of violations, such as the following:

  • Illegally starting the vehicle
  • Refusing to submit to a test while driving
  • Providing a sample that registers an illegal breath alcohol content

The consequences of such violations could include a longer license suspension and even license revocation.

In addition to license suspension, DWI charges in Texas carry with them significant penalties that could include fines, time in jail and a permanent blemish on a criminal record. Anyone facing such charges should immediately consult with an attorney.