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What is the Ignition Interlock Device Program in SC?

What is the Ignition Interlock Device Program in SC?
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

What is the ignition interlock device (IID) program in SC, and when are you required to install a breathalyzer device on your vehicle?

Beginning in May of 2024, a new law will make these devices mandatory for people who are convicted of any DUI or DUAC offense in SC and for anyone with an implied consent violation.

Below, we will discuss SC’s new ignition interlock device law, including:

  • How an ignition interlock device works,
  • How the ignition interlock device program works in SC, and
  • What will change under SC’s new ignition interlock device law.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small breathalyzer that is designed to prevent a person from starting their car ignition if there is alcohol in their system, also called a “car breathalyzer” or a “breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID).”

South Carolina, like other states, has moved to require people who are convicted of DUI-related offenses to install these devices on their vehicles. Many consider the program a success, as 1) it prevents drunk driving accidents, 2) it prevents additional DUI charges for the driver, and 3) it allows some individuals to drive – safely – when their license would have been suspended otherwise.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?

The system consists of a handheld unit, a mouthpiece, a cord that attaches to the ignition, and a camera.

The driver must provide a breath sample before they can start the vehicle. If they pass, the car will start. If they fail, the ignition will be locked. The driver may be allowed to submit a retest, but they will be locked out of the device if there are too many failed attempts.

The device may also prompt the driver to submit random retests as long as the vehicle is running and prevent the driver from restarting their vehicle if they fail a retest.

What is the Ignition Interlock Device Program in SC?

The device is installed and monitored by the probation department, and the costs of installation and supervision are paid by the driver.

When the driver fails a breath test on the device, the probation department is notified, and there is a “point system” outlined in SC Code § 56-5-2941 that allows the probation department to:

  • Extend the length of time the driver is required to have the IID installed,
  • Require the driver to attend substance abuse treatment, or
  • Revoke the person’s driving privileges.

What is SC’s New Ignition Interlock Device Law?

The 2024 amendments to SC’s IID laws include changes to the ignition interlock device requirements in various situations, including:

  • South Carolina’s “zero tolerance” law that provides for license suspensions if a person younger than 21 years old has a BAC of .02 or greater (see, SC Code §56-1-286),
  • Allowing habitual traffic offenders to regain their licenses by installing an ignition interlock device,
  • Providing a procedure by which a lifetime device requirement can be removed,
  • Requiring IIDs for persons convicted of first offense driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), and
  • Requiring IIDs for persons accused of implied consent violations.

The Old IID Requirements

Under the current ignition interlock device requirements, a person who has been convicted of DUI or DUAC may be required to enroll in the IID program, or, in some cases, they may have the option of enrolling in the IID program in lieu of serving out their license suspension.

In any case, the device is not mandatory for any person who is convicted of a first-offense DUI or DUAC.

When a person has an implied consent violation, the device is mandatory in some situations while it is an option in other cases, allowing a person to avoid a mandatory license suspension by installing the device.

The New IID Requirements

Under the 2024 amendments, which do not go into effect until May of 2024, the ignition interlock device requirement will be mandatory even for first-offense DUI or DUAC convictions, and it will be mandatory for all implied consent violations.

DUI or DUAC Convictions

How long must you keep the device on your vehicle after a DUI or DUAC conviction?

The length of time depends on how many prior convictions for DUI or DUAC the person has within the past ten years.

For a first offense, six months.

For a second offense, two years.

For a third offense, three years.

For a third offense that occurs within five years of the first offense, four years.

For a fourth or subsequent offense, there is a lifetime ignition interlock device requirement.

Implied Consent Violations

When a person refuses to take the breathalyzer or takes the test and the result is .15 or greater, there will be a mandatory IID requirement under the 2024 amendments.

If the person requests an implied consent hearing/ DUI administrative hearing, they can still apply for a TAL (temporary alcohol license) that allows them to drive without restriction until their hearing.

If they win their implied consent hearing, there is no IID requirement unless they are convicted of DUI.

If they lose their implied consent hearing, however, they must install an IID and enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP) within 30 days of the hearing officer’s decision.

Got Axelrod?

If you have been charged with DUI, DUAC, felony DUI, or a DUI-related offense in SC, contact a DUI defense lawyer on the Axelrod team immediately – we may be able to get your case dismissed, you may be able to avoid a license suspension, and you may have defenses that you are not aware of.

Call Axelrod and Associates now at 843-258-4478 or email us to talk with a Myrtle Beach, SC DUI defense attorney today.

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