The consequences of a DWI charge, especially a suspended license, can severely impact your life. A suspended license can limit your access to work and school, cut into your quality time with others, and limit your freedom to move about as you wish. In addition to the many requirements of your probation, the court may also order the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle.
This prolonged responsibility will cost you time, money and freedom. To understand this process better, we will look at the rules and costs associated with an interlock device in Texas, along with your best defense strategy when facing the obligations of a DWI charge.
- 1 What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
- 2 Circumstances that Mandate the Use of an IID in Texas
- 3 Is an Interlock Device Necessary for an Occupational License?
- 4 Responsibility for the Cost of the Ignition Interlock Device in Texas
- 5 How Much Is the Ignition Interlock Device in Texas?
- 6 The Best Strategy If You are Charged with DWI in Texas
What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a breathalyzer attached to the ignition system of a vehicle. The device requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece to analyze their blood alcohol level. If the driver tests above the programmed blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the IID will prevent the vehicle from starting. Your lawyer and the prosecutor will negotiate to determine whether the installation of an IID during probation is necessary. This requirement may also be a condition of your bond while the case is pending. This decision will be at the judge’s discretion.
Circumstances that Mandate the Use of an IID in Texas
In Texas, particular circumstances mandate the use of an IID as a requirement of bond, including:
- The violation is either your second or a subsequent violation
- You were allegedly the cause of an accident that resulted in either serious bodily injury (intoxication assault) or the death of someone else (intoxication manslaughter)
Other situations where you may need to have an IID installed include:
- You were under the age of 21 when the offense occurred
- You are a first-time offender and tested with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or greater
Is an Interlock Device Necessary for an Occupational License?
No, the installation of an ignition interlock device is not a requirement of an occupational license. However, if you are currently under an order restricting you from the operation of a motor vehicle equipped with an IID, including an order imposed as a condition of bond, the judge will require the installation of an ignition interlock device. This also applies if the court has suspended, revoked, or canceled your license following the conviction of certain offenses, namely for second or subsequent DWI/DUI charges.
An occupational license, sometimes called an essential need license, allows you to drive while your regular state driver’s license remains suspended. You may only use these permits within the issuing state. You will not be eligible for an occupational license if one or more of the following applies:
- You have never held a valid driver’s license
- You lost your driving privileges for failing to pay court-mandated child support
- You received an occupational driver’s license because of a conviction at least twice in the last 10 years
- The state has revoked your driving privileges because of a mental or physical disability
- You are subject to a hard suspension waiting period due to refusing or failing a blood or breath test during an arrest for a drug or alcohol related charge
Before you request an Order for Occupational Driver’s License, you must first obtain SR-22 Proof of Insurance (Proof of Financial Responsibility) from your insurance provider, and a certified abstract of your driving record from the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Responsibility for the Cost of the Ignition Interlock Device in Texas
As the defendant, you must cover the entire cost of the ignition interlock device. However, the State of Texas offers financial assistance to those in need. You must apply for assistance. Approval will not decrease your overall financial burden. You will simply have a longer period of time to pay it off.
How Much Is the Ignition Interlock Device in Texas?
Expect to pay between $70 and $150 for the cost of installation, depending on factors such as the make and model of your car, its technological features and any applicable state and county fees associated with the installation. DWI offenders lease (or rent) ignition interlock devices. Costs average between $65 and $90 per month.
The Texas Department of Public Safety also requires a $10 annual fee for use of an IID, and another $10 yearly fee for an occupational license, not including any reinstatement fees associated with an expired or previously suspended license.
The Best Strategy If You are Charged with DWI in Texas
DWI charges are a serious matter. You will not only have to face substantial fines, but several restrictive conditions as a part of your supervision, including the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Don’t just give up. Defend yourself by knowing your rights and by conducting yourself properly with all parties involved. Most importantly, hire a lawyer with the experience and tenacity needed to ensure the state reduces your charges and eases your restrictions. Your attorney will be the most significant asset to your case and your best chance of success.
Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.