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When an ignition interlock device required in Wisconsin?

Every year, thousands are injured in drunken driving accidents, and almost one out of three traffic deaths on American roads involve drunk driving. Wisconsin is no exception; in 2014 the Badger State saw nearly 2,700 injuries and 162 fatalities from alcohol related accidents.

To help reduce these frightening statistics, on July 1, 2010 Wisconsin Act 100 went into effect, which requires judges to order an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in certain cases.

What is an ignition interlock device?

This is a device, similar to a breathalyzer, which is installed in the vehicle and measures the amount of alcohol in the driver's system. The driver must breathe into it, and if the alcohol level exceeds the pre-programmed amount, the device temporary locks the vehicle's ignition. The first fail results in the ignition being locked for a few minutes; each successive fail will disable the vehicle for a longer period. The data from each breath sample are sent to the institution that ordered the device.

A rolling retest may also be required; this ensures that the driver is not consuming alcohol while operating the vehicle. At certain times while driving, the device will signal the driver to give a breath sample. If alcohol is detected, the device will activate the horn and flash the lights until the driver stops the vehicle. This also alerts other drivers nearby. However, the device will not turn the engine off while the vehicle is moving.

When must a judge order an IID?

Wisconsin Act 100 requires judges to order an IID in the following cases:

  • All repeat Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) offenders
  • All first-time OWI offenders with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher
  • All drivers who refuse to submit to a breath or blood test at a traffic stop

Additionally, this order applies to every vehicle owned and/or operated by the offender. In other words, the offender cannot legally drive a non-equipped IID vehicle while the order is in effect. Courts cannot waive or modify this restriction. And offenders cannot simply "wait out" the order by choosing not to obtain a license. The clock starts on the IID order when the offender once again has a valid license after suspension or revocation.

We can help

If you have been accused of OWI, you could be facing jail time, loss of employment, suspension or loss of license, fines, and a mandatory IID order. Wisconsin laws are tough. You need legal help. Let the attorneys at Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP help. With decades of combined experience, they can assist you, defend your rights, and navigate the complicated legal system for the best possible outcome.

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