Ignition interlock devices require that the driver provide a breath sample before the car engine will start. These devices have been an instrumental part of stopping drunk drivers in the state of Maryland by monitoring them after their offenses. Since the passing of Noah’s Law in 2016, installation of these devices is mandatory after a DUI charge. We are proud that Maryland is one of the national leaders in this strategy. We currently rank sixth in the United States for greatest number of installations and ninth in overall usage. It remains a vital part of achieving our goal of eliminating drunk drivers from Maryland roads.
How does an ignition interlock device work?
The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that disables your ignition if it detects alcohol. The driver must blow into it every time they start the car. If it detects alcohol, it initiates a lockout period that requires the driver to wait. This lockout time increases with every ignition failure. In addition, the system periodically requests retests to ensure the person who started the car is the one driving. A failed breath test on the road will not shut down the car, but it will cause an alarm to sound and the failure will be recorded and reported to the MVA.
Can a friend start my car for me using this device?
Yes, but only if they are planning on driving. It is illegal to have a sober friend use the device to start the car and then switch places with you. Many providers install a camera along with the device to ensure that you respect the rules and participate appropriately in all aspects of the program.
Who must participate in the program?
Since the passing of Noah’s law, the state of Maryland requires installation of ignition interlock devices for offenders who:
- Receive a DUI under any circumstance.
- Receive a DWI while transporting a minor.
- Refuse a breathalyzer test.
- Crash while impaired, causing a death or life-threatening injury.
What determines eligibility in the ignition interlock program?
In order to qualify, you must have a driver’s license in good standing. In other words, it cannot already be suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused for any reason. You must then surrender your license to the MVA, replacing it with a new, restricted license. In addition, you must complete all relevant paperwork related to the program and arrange installation of the device within 30 days.
Who installs the device?
An approved service provider must install the ignition interlock device. The Maryland MVA maintains a list of these providers here.
Who pays for the device?
Typically the driver pays all fees related to the installation, calibration, and monitoring of the device. If you can prove financial hardship, some assistance may be available.
Will installation or removal of the device damage the car?
No. The service technicians will not need to drill holes in the vehicle or damage it in any way to install the device. Instead, it’s a simple matter of rewiring, which they will restore to its original configuration after removal.
How is the device monitored?
As part of the program, drivers need to report to their service provider every thirty days for data collection and device calibration. The provider will then prepare a report and pass it along to the Maryland MVA. Detection of failures or improper use of the device may result in immediate removal from the program and loss of your license.
What information does the ignition interlock device collect?
The device will provide information on how far your vehicle has traveled, plus the number of engine starts and stops. In addition, it records instances of the following:
- Alcohol detected when you attempted to start the vehicle.
- Attempts to start the vehicle without testing.
- Failures to take rolling retests.
- Alcohol detected during rolling retests.
- Attempts to disconnect or bypass the device in any way.
How long does the program last?
At minimum, the program lasts 180 days, but may be longer. If your blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 or higher or if you refused the breathalyzer test, you will be required to participate for a full year. Any violations detected during monitoring of the device can also extend your participation. (As mentioned above, in some circumstances, failures or improper uses of the device may result in early removal from the program.)
In the end, successful completion of the program also requires that you remain free of any violations for at least three months after removal of the device.
Other Questions Regarding the Maryland Ignition Interlock Program
Still have questions about the ignition interlock program in the state of Maryland? Please see the Maryland MVA Page for more information or contact the MVA customer service center at 1-410-768-7000.