North Carolina Ignition Interlock Device Laws 2024 Explained

Doug Edwards

Ignition Interlock Devices are used nationwide to help prevent people from driving while impaired. If you were recently charged with a DWI in North Carolina, it’s crucial that you educate yourself on Ignition Interlock Devices and how to use them properly. Your North Carolina DUI lawyer can explain if an IID will be required in your case.

In just the past few years, North Carolina has made multiple changes to the state’s legislation regarding Ignition Interlock Devices. Below, you can find North Carolina’s Ignition Interlock Device laws explained.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device, more commonly known as an IID, is a handheld mechanism that tests a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). IIDs work as both breathalyzers and ignition locks, meaning drivers must pass a breathalyzer test in order to unlock their ignition and start their car. To use an IID, the driver must simply blow into the mouthpiece for a few seconds to provide a breath sample. If they pass, the IID will unlock, and the driver may start their engine.

A driver with an IID can only use their vehicle if their BAC is 0.02% or lower. This is one of the more recent legislation changes, as the limits used to be 0.04% or 0.00%. If the IID detects any traces of alcohol, the driver will be locked out of the device and, consequently, their vehicle. IIDs are designed to prevent drunk driving and also help save repeat offenders from dangerous situations.

When Do You Have to Use an IID in North Carolina?

IIDs are used in DWI cases to help protect the defendant and other people on the roads. Generally, your North Carolina court will mandate the use of an IID in these two circumstances:

  1. The Defendant Had a BAC Greater than 0.15%
    In North Carolina, no individual is allowed to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Because 0.08% is the legal limit, the state views BAC results ranging from 0.15 – 0.20% to be incredibly dangerous. As a result, North Carolina requires anyone found operating a vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.15% to use an IID when their driving privileges are restored. The IID is required regardless of whether it’s the defendant’s first charge.
  2. It Is the Defendant’s Second or Subsequent DWI
    Typically, the state will not require a first-time DWI offender to use an IID. However, they are mandated as soon as the defendant is charged with their second DWI or subsequent DWI within seven years. If the defendant is on their second or subsequent charge, they are considered a “repeat offender.” This means the state will take more actions to help prevent the defendant from driving drunk again.

What Happens if You Fail Your IID Breathalyzer?

If an IID detects alcohol in a breath sample, it will generally lock the driver out for five to ten minutes. This is a preventive measure, as the device may sometimes have a false reading, or the driver used something like mouthwash that made the test incorrect. If you somehow failed your initial IID test but know you didn’t drink, don’t overwhelm yourself. Wait ten minutes, drink some water, and try the test again when you’re comfortable.

If you provide another breath sample and fail, you’ll most likely be locked out for another 30 minutes to an hour. The IID will also send a notification to your local DMV. A second failed attempt will result in a violation of your court order and the suspension of your driving privileges. If you believe your IID had false readings multiple times, it’s critical that you talk to one of our DWI lawyers, who can help evaluate your situation.

FAQs About North Carolina Ignition Interlock Device Laws

Do You Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device in All of Your Cars?

Another recent change in North Carolina’s IID laws allows defendants to install fewer devices when they are mandated. While the state used to require defendants to install an IID in every car they owned, they now only have to install IIDs in vehicles they are using or intend to use.

What if You Can’t Afford an Ignition Interlock Device in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, the defendant is responsible for purchasing and installing an IID in their vehicle. However, as of 2022, the state now allows defendants who cannot afford an IID to request aid through authorized vendors. If you’re approved to buy through these specific vendors, they will help to cover a portion of your IID expenses.

How Long Do You Have to Use an Ignition Interlock Device in North Carolina?

The length of time for which you are required to use an IID will depend on the severity of your DWI. For first and second-time offenses with mild charges, you are generally required to use an IID for one year. For third and subsequent offenses or aggravated charges, a defendant may be mandated to use an IID for at least three years. Talk to your DWI attorney if you have any questions about using your IID.

How Much Does One Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

The average installation cost of an IID in North Carolina ranges from $75 to $150. While the installation fee is a one-time expense, defendants are also responsible for paying for the IID to operate. This generally comes as a daily fee of a few dollars per day. Depending on the vendor you purchase your IID from, you may be able to sign up for payment plans to keep your IID active.

Dependable North Carolina DWI Assistance

At Edwards Law, PLLC, we’ve been defending North Carolina residents for over a decade. We understand just how overwhelming a DWI charge can be, which is why we’re prepared to offer unbiased legal support at any point in your case. If you were recently mandated to use an IID or have concerns regarding your DWI charge, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. Reach out to Edwards Law, PLLC, to schedule a consultation today.