Maine's Ignition Interlock Device Program

Posted by William Bly | Dec 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Ignition interlock device

If you've been suspended administratively by the Maine BMV for an OUI or you've been convicted in a Maine court for a criminal OUI, you're eligible to get your license reinstated early through the state's IID program.  The Ignition Interlock Device program (IID) was put into place precisely two years ago, on December 1, 2013.  The purpose of the program was twofold:  

  1. to allow people convicted of or administratively suspended for an OUI offense to drive and therefore, to be able to continue to work and pay their bills;
  2. to ensure the public's safety by requiring all OUI offenders to drive with an IID.

The institution of the IID program also resulted in increased license suspension penalties as follows:

  • 1st offense increased from a 90 day loss of license to 150 day loss of license;
  • 2nd offense increased from an 18 month loss of license to a 3 year loss of license;
  • 3rd offense increased from a 3 year loss of license to a 6 year loss of license; and
  • 4th offense increased from a  6 year loss of license to an 8 year loss of license.

At first blush, the increased license suspension penalties are concerning.  However, the IID program allows for early reinstatement in cases where a person was suspended by the Maine BMV or convicted in court.  The early reinstatement guidelines are as follows:

  • 1st offense OUI - eligible after 30 days for the IID and the device must remain installed on the vehicle through the remainder of the suspension;
  • 2nd offense OUI - eligible after 9 months for the IID and the device must remain installed on the vehicle for a minimum of 2 years;
  • 3rd offense OUI - eligible after 3 years for the IID and the device must remain installed on the vehicle for a minimum of 3 years;
  • 4th offense OUI - eligible after 4 years for the IID and the device must remain installed on the vehicle for a minimum of 4 years.

How and Where to Get Your IID Installed?

The first thing you'll need to do is apply for the IID program.  However, you can't apply for the program until you've been suspended by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles or you've been convicted in criminal court.  Once you've been suspended, you'll need to have completed the Maine Driver Education & Evaluation Program (DEEP) before you'll be eligible for reinstatement.  Click here for more DEEP info.

Once you've got DEEP completed and your petition for entry into the IID program has been approved, you'll need to contact one of the two approved manufacturers of the IID device.  The information is as follows:

  • Intoxalock, which has the following approved installers and locations: click here for more info
  • Sens-O-Lock, which has the following approved installers and locations: click here for more info

Both manufacturers have numerous locations throughout the state.  When making your decision on choosing a manufacturer, take a look at who the authorized installer and where they are located.  Location and quality of installation are the two biggest issues and should be the determining factor on which IID to have installed on your car.

Problems with the Ignition Interlock Device

While the benefits to being able to drive with an IID far outweigh the drawbacks, there are some issues you should be aware of.  First of all, both IIDs require "rolling tests".  That means that after you blow into the machine to start your car, sometime during the drive, the device will signal you to pull over and provide a sample.  If you don't respond quickly enough, your car's lights will begin flashing and the horn will begin honking.  This will of course, draw the attention of local law enforcement.

Another issue is the sensitivity of the machine.  You have to ensure that you don't use mouth wash, mints, breath spray or perfumes when driving the car.  The IID is very sensitive and can't differentiate between cologne and the alcohol you consume.  If the machine detects alcohol, it won't allow you to drive and will log the attempt, which will be sent to the BMV.  This could result in a suspension of your driving privileges, so be careful!

It's cold in Maine.  And since we live in a cold state, we all like to start our cars and let them warm up before we get in to drive to work.  If you have an IID, you no longer have that luxury.  If you start your car and leave it running, you run the risk that the machine may ask you to provide a sample.  If you don't provide a sample within that timeframe, you could get locked out from re-starting the car.

IID Costs

These devices are expensive.  You have to pay for the rental, installation, maintenance and removal of the device.  The potential costs for an IID are as follows:

  • Mandatory completion of the Maine DEEP program - $300.00 - $1,000.00, depending on whether or not you're referred on for additional counseling due to a substance abuse issue;
  • BMV reinstatement fee - $50.00
  • Installation costs for IID - approximately $200.00
  • Removal costs for IID - approximately $150.00
  • Monthly rental costs - approximately $80.00 per month
  • Regular maintenance costs of IID - varies according to manufacturer
  • Total Costs = $1,000.00+ to $1,700.00+, depending on the length of time the IID is installed

Out of State Issues

If you've been charged with an OUI in Maine but you hold an out-of-state driver's license, your case is much more complicated than the average OUI offense.  Out-of-state drivers have to contend with Maine's BMV and their home state DMV.  If the home state has an IID program, we can get you reinstated at home early through enrollment in Maine's IID program.  However, you'll have to get the IID installed by a Maine installer and it will have to be maintained in Maine.  Therefore, if you're not from New England, this is an unlikely option.

If you're from out of state and your home state doesn't have an IID program, you're out of luck.  Your home state must have an IID program in order to get reinstated early in your home state.  Of course, if you have licensing questions, we can help you with those issues.  DO NOT try and figure this out by yourself.  In my office, we generally consult with an attorney from your home state in order to determine the best way to get your license reinstated.  DUI law in Maine and in other states is incredibly complex.  Don't go it alone!

Summary

The IID program is a good program but as I noted earlier, it has its drawbacks; the biggest of which is the financial piece.  However, the alternative for most people is to walk, ride a bike or take the HUGE risk of driving on a suspended license.  None of those alternatives beat being able to drive, work and pay the bills.  Of course for some folks, the financial piece may be too big of an obstacle, resulting in a loss of livelihood.  It's just a sad fact of life.

If you've been charged with an OUI in Maine, call me.  I can make a difference.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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