Almost everyone whose driving privilege is revoked by the state of Colorado for driving under the influence is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in vehicles they own or co-own before they will be permitted to reinstate their license.
The interlock device is about the size of a large cell phone and is installed in the dashboard and attached to the vehicle’s ignition. The driver must blow into the device in order to start the car. In Colorado, if the device measures a breath alcohol content of .025 or above, the car will not start. The devices are also programmed to take “rolling tests” in which the driver is required to blow into the interlock periodically while driving. If the device detects an excess alcohol level at that point, it will report a failed test and go into lockout mode which means once the vehicle is turned off, you will not be able to restart the vehicle without first contacting the interlock company and going through the lockout removal procedure.
The interlock is imbedded with a microchip that records the occurrence of elevated alcohol levels. It must be examined by a licensed interlock provider at least once every 60 days, at which time the information is downloaded and sent to the Colorado DMV. Failure to submit to an examination every 60 days could result in a driver’s license suspension for interlock non-compliance. In addition, the interlock restriction may be extended if the device detects alcohol on three or more occasions within any twelve month consecutive period.
Ignition interlocks are available through private companies authorized by the state to lease the devices. A typical installation fee costs about $100, although some providers will install it for free. Smart Start, one of the largest ignition interlock providers in the state, currently charges around $85 per month for the lease. Financial assistance is available through the Department of Revenue for first offenders who cannot afford the interlock.