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How does the ignition interlock program work in Florida?

You've been convicted of a DUI in Florida. The judge orders that you have an ignition interlock device installed in your car if you want to drive again.

This situation is all new to you, and you ask yourself this: Just what is an ignition interlock device and what am I supposed to do with it?

It is just what the name implies: a device that locks your engine if, once you blow into it, alcohol is detected beyond a .025 blood alcohol content (BAC) reading. The car won't turn on if that's the case.

If your DUI conviction is your first, the court can order you to have the device installed on your car. If it is your first conviction and your BAC is .20 or higher, or if you have a minor in the car, the judge can order you to have the device for up to six months.

A second conviction will require you to have the device for at least one year – two years if you have as higher BAC or a child in the car. A third conviction will yield a conviction of at least two years.

It is a labor-intensive device, too. About five minutes after you start your car, you must breathe into it again. Every 30 minutes that you're driving, the interlock will beep for you to breathe into it again. Each breath you take is recorded, and the data is transmitted to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles.

Look at it this way. If you want to travel from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to a family reunion in Baltimore, for example, that's about a 15-hour drive. So you'll have the two quick breaths into the device – then 30 or so more along the journey.

On top of the inconvenience and, let's face it, embarrassment, there also are costs involved.

In Florida, the installation cost is $70 plus $67.50 a month for as long as you have the device. You also must take your car each month to have the ignition interlock calibrated.

This illustrates that a DUI conviction can be a life-changing event. If you are charged with drunk driving, consult with a Florida attorney experienced in such cases for assistance.

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