Ignition Interlock

Any South Carolina driver who is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI/DUAC must have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle if they wish to regain their driving privileges following the required license suspension period.

Ignition interlocks are also required for some first time DUI/DUAC offenders. Anyone convicted of first time driving under the influence with a BAC of .15 or above would have to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

In addition, the law increases penalties for those who are required to install an ignition interlock but fail to do so. The penalties are a minimum fine of $500, 90 days in jail or six months home detention and an extension of six months on the period of required ignition interlock use for a first or second offense. A third or subsequent conviction is a felony charge with a minimum fine of $5,000 as well as prison time or three years of home detention.

FAQs About Ignition Interlock Devices

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?

An IID is a mechanism similar to a breathalyzer that is installed in a vehicle's dashboard. It is designed to prevent a driver from operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

How does it work?

The driver must breathe into the device before starting the vehicle and if the analyzed result is higher than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the vehicle will not start. At random times, the driver must breathe into the device again while operating the vehicle. This requirement ensures that the driver cannot have someone breathe into the device to help them start the vehicle and then drive away. If the analyzed result is higher than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device will warn the driver and then start an event such as an alarm, flashing lights or the horn until the vehicle is turned off. Each event is logged by the device and checked by officials.

I have a medical condition that makes it difficult for me to breathe into the device. Can I be exempt from the program?

You may apply for a medical exemption if you have a pulmonary condition certified by a pulmonary physician. Before granting an exemption, SCDMV will require you to take the certification to an ignition interlock device vendor to determine if the device can be adjusted so that you may be able to properly operate the device. If the vendor determines that you cannot properly operate the device, a letter will be provided to you indicating that fact. You must provide the original certification from your physician and the letter from the vendor to SCDMV.

Who pays for use and installation of the ignition interlock device?

Individuals subject to the ignition interlock device restriction are required to assume all costs for the device.

a. If an individual cannot afford the cost, he or she may submit an affidavit of indigence to the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole (PPP).

b. Persons found to be indigent by PPP may have the installation and use of the ignition interlock device paid for by the Interlock Device Fund, which is managed by PPP.

I don't own a vehicle. Are there any other requirements I have to meet?

If you are subject to the ignition interlock device restriction, but you do not own a vehicle, you must certify that you will not drive any vehicle other than one owned by your employer and that you will not own a vehicle during the time the ignition interlock device restriction is required, SCDMV may waive the requirement for proof that an ignition interlock device has been installed. Your eligibility for the waiver is subject to periodic review by SCDMV and if it is determined that you operated a vehicle in violation of the restriction, your driver's license may be revoked.

Do I have to have an IID installed on my work vehicle?

If you or a family member own the business, you are required to have an IID installed on your work vehicle. If you or a family member do not own the business you are not required to have an IID installed on your work vehicle.

Another person drives my vehicle sometimes. Will they have to blow into the IID to operate my vehicle?

Yes, however you are responsible for any violations associated with the device regardless of who drives the vehicle.

What happens if I drive my vehicle without an IID?

This is a new offense and would result in new charges against you.

What if I own/drive multiple vehicles?

The statute requires an interlock device on all vehicles you routinely operate.

Do I have an ignition interlock deice installed on my motorcycle?

An ignition interlock device cannot be installed on a motorcycle. Individuals may not operate a motorcycle while subject o the ignition interlock device restriction.

How long am I required to be in the IID program?

The length of time you are required to participate will vary depending on the number of convictions you have received. The minimum length of time in the program is two years for those having two convictions, three years for those having three convictions and lifetime for those having four or more convictions. Additionally, the time you are required to be in the program will be extended if you accumulate IID points.

What if the vehicle is not registered to me?

You must install an ignition interlock device in the vehicle that you routinely operate, regardless of who is listed on the registration.

Where do I go to have the IID Installed?

A list of certified vendors is located on the SCDPPPS website.

Will the IID turn off the vehicle while I'm driving?

No, at no point will the ignition interlock device shut off a vehicle.

Do I have to blow into the device while I am driving?

Periodically the device will indicate to the driver that they need to blow into the device. When instructed, the driver must provide a breath sample.

What happens if I have repair work done on a car with an IID?

You should inform the vendor prior to having the vehicle worked on and then present the receipt at the next calibration appointment. Note that anytime the battery is disconnected due to service work, you must bring a repair receipt to the next appointment.

What is a calibration appointment?

Every 60 days you are required to take your vehicle into the installer and have the IID inspected and calibrated. Failure to have this calibration completed will result in one ignition interlock point.

I am from out of state and want to get a SC driver's license. How long will I have to have an IID installed on my vehicle?

According to Section 56-5-2941(c) if a person from another state becomes a resident of South Carolina while subject to an ignition interlock device requirement in another state, the person may only obtain a SC driver's license if the person enrolls in the IIDP. The person is subject to the requirements of the IIDP for the length of time that would have been required for an offense committed in South Carolina or for the length of time that is required by the other state, whichever is longer.

When does my participation in the IID Program begin?

Driver participation in the IID Program begins when SCDMV has issued an IID restricted driver's license. Participation does not begin when the IID is installed. If the driver's license is suspended at any time during the IID Program the time remaining on the program will be tolled.

Can mouthwash or foods cause a failed BAC?

If you consume or use a product that contains alcohol, you may have a failed BAC. The device does not distinguish between mouthwash or alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is alcohol.

Will doughnuts and pastries affect operation of the IID?

The sugar and yeast in pastry can prompt an IID to register a breath alcohol above the limit. Rinsing with water prior to blowing into the IID, which is always recommended, will prevent failure.

Will the IID drain the car battery?

An ignition interlock device draws less than one-quarter of an amp when not in use and less than half an amp when preparing for a test. The device won't drain the battery of a vehicle with a properly functioning electrical system unless the car isn't started for 10 days. A car with a compromised electrical system may be affected sooner, but such a vehicle would have battery problems regardless of whether an ignition interlock device was installed.

This information was taken from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services website. More information about the Ignition Interlock Devices and program can be found at www.dppps.sc.gov