As DUI defense lawyers in Charleston, we’ve been asked questions about the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program in South Carolina. The IID Program is part of “Emma’s Law.” A significant part of this law concerns the use of Ignition Interlock Devices for certain people convicted of drunk driving/DUI offenses. In this article, we explain who MUST enroll in the Ignition Interlock Program, who must or can enroll, how long a driver must stay in the program, the penalties for violating the program, and the typical cost of the program.
Does South Carolina Have Interlock?
Yes. Anyone convicted of a DUI-type crime EXCEPT for those convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) 1st offense or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) 1st offense who refused the breathalyzer test, or who took it and blew LESS than a 0.15% must enroll in the Interlock Ignition Program. So, if you’re convicted of DUI or DUAC and blew over 0.15%, you must enroll in the program. Also, if you’re convicted of DUI/DUAC 2nd offense or greater, felony DUI, or child endangerment, you must enroll in the program. However, you can apply for a medical waiver if you have a medical condition that makes you incapable of properly operating the ignition interlock device, but your license will be suspended instead.
Who Can Enroll in the Ignition Interlock Program in South Carolina?
If your vehicle is required to be immobilized (such as drivers convicted of two or more DUI’s or DUAC’s), you can prevent the immobilization if you enroll in the Ignition Interlock Device Program. Also, if your license is suspended under South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law for refusing to submit to a breath test, you can end the suspension by enrolling in the Program.
How Long Do I Have to Use the Ignition Interlock Device in South Carolina?
The time period depends on your violation, and it doesn’t matter what you actually pled to. For example, if you plead a DUI 2nd Offense down to a DUI 1st Offense, you may still have to carry the device as if you are guilty of DUI 2nd Offense. The time periods are listed as follows:
- DUI, First Offense (BAC>0.15%) – 6 months
- DUI, Second Offense – 2 years
- DUI, Third Offense – 3 years
- DUI, Fourth or Greater Offense – Lifetime. However, after 5 years you may apply to have the IID requirement removed. The law is too new for it to be clear what exactly you will need to show to convince the DMV to allow the device to be removed.
- Felony DUI – 3 years for great bodily injury, 5 years for death
If convicted in another state of a DUI-related charge, then you will have to carry the ignition interlock device for how long South Carolina requires it or how long the other state would require it, whichever is longer. If you are a South Carolina driver and you get a DUI in another state where that state requires an ignition interlock, South Carolina will require you to use the ignition interlock device for whichever period is longer between South Carolina and the other state.
How Does the Ignition Interlock Program Work in South Carolina?
Installation, Device Type & Cost for IID – You must have the ignition interlock device installed by a vendor certified by SLED. Ignition interlock devices (IID’s) must be certified by the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services (DPPPS). Certification is done pursuant to accuracy requirements and specifications in guidelines or regulations adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). DPPPS will keep a list of certified ignition interlock devices and manufacturers. Installers/Vendors must also be certified, and DPPPS will keep a current list of vendors that are certified to install the devices. The driver must pay for the cost of the device’s installation, maintenance, and monitoring, but the driver may qualify to have the State pay for it if the driver qualifies as “indigent” depending on the driver’s income, assets, debts, number of dependents, and living situation.
Point System for Violation of South Carolina’s Interlock Ignition Program – Once the IID is installed, you can’t start your vehicle without blowing into the device. If the device registers a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or greater, your car won’t start. Occasionally, you may also have to submit to a “running retest” which means you have to pull over and blow again. There is a point system that can be used to penalize you if you violate the program. Points are assessed as follows:
- ½ point is assessed if you attempt to start your vehicle and your BAC is 0.02% or more but less than 0.04%.
- 1 point is assessed if you attempt to start your vehicle and your BAC is 0.04% or more but less than 0.15%.
- 2 points are assessed if you attempt to start your vehicle and your BAC is greater than 0.15%.
- 1 point is are assessed if you fail to have the device inspected every 60 days by a certified vendor.
- 1 point if you fail to complete a “running re-test” as required by law.
- 1 ½ points are assessed if you are caught on camera tampering with the device.
- 1 ½ points are assessed if you are caught on camera allowing someone else to blow into the device.
Penalties Based on the Point System for Violation of South Carolina’s Interlock Ignition Program – The penalties under the points system are as follows:
- If you receive 2 points or more, but less than 3 points, the period required to have the device in the car is extended by 2 months.
- If you receive 3 points or more, but less than 4 points, the period required to have the device in the car is extended by 4 months. You will also have to go for a substance abuse assessment and engage in treatment and education.
- If you receive over 4 points, your driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months. You will also have to go for a substance abuse assessment and engage in treatment and education.
If you’re penalized for violations totaling less than 4 points, the person can appeal the penalties with a petition to DPPPS. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the notice of the points assessment. If you’re penalized for violations totaling 4 points or greater, the appeal goes to the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH). During this appeal, you can still drive, but the device must remain in your vehicle.
What Happens if I Violate the Ignition Interlock Device Program in South Carolina?
Driving a Vehicle that Doesn’t Have an IID – If a person subject to the IID Program drives a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a properly operating, certified IID, penalties are as follows:
- The first offense is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of at least $1,000 or jail up to 1 year. The length of time to have IID will be extended by 6 months.
- The second offense is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of at least $5,000 or jail up to 3 years. The length of time to have the IID will be extended by 1 year.
- The third or subsequent offense is a felony. The penalty is a fine of at least $10,000 or jail up to 10 years. The length of time to have the device will be extended by 3 years.
- Tampering with IID or Obstructing Camera – Tampering with an IID or obstructing or obscuring the camera lens is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $500, jail up to 30 days, or both.
- Allowing an IID Restricted Driver to Operate a Vehicle without IID – Letting a person with an Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License rent, lease, or drive a vehicle that doesn’t have a properly operating, certified ignition interlock device is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $500, jail up to 30 days, or both. There may be an exception for the vehicle owner if that person leased the vehicle to the driver prior to the arrest date.
- Asking Someone Else to Blow Into IID – If a person with an Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License asks someone else to blow into an IID to start the vehicle, the crime is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $500, jail up to 30 days, or both.
- Blowing Into an IID for a Restricted Driver – Starting an ignition interlock device for someone with an Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $500, jail up to 30 days, or both.
Can I Ride a Motorcycle if I am in the IID Program?
No. Motorcycles cannot hold IID’s, and there is no exception for them in the law.
Can I Drive a Work Vehicle if I am in the IID Program?
The answer is that it “depends.” There is an exception to allow you to drive an employer’s vehicle without an Ignition Interlock Device in certain situations. The driving must be required in the course and scope of employment, and the use must be solely for the employer’s business purposes. This exception doesn’t apply to someone who is self-employed or who is employed by a member of the person’s household or immediate family. The person must keep the DMV form pertaining to this employer vehicle authorization with him or her at all times while driving the employer’s vehicle.
What Much Does Interlock Ignition Cost in South Carolina?
The offender must pay all costs associated with the ignition interlock. It costs approximately $70 to $150 to install and around $60 to $80 per month for device monitoring and calibration.
DUI Defense Attorneys in Charleston
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DUAC and you have questions about the Ignition Interlock Device Program in South Carolina, contact the attorneys at Futeral & Nelson for a free consultation to discuss your rights.