An ignition interlock device, sometimes called a blowbox, is a device that installs directly into your vehicle. If convicted of an impaired driving-related offence you may be required to install this device in your vehicle if you wish to resume driving. The ignition interlock tests your blood alcohol content (BAC) before engaging the ignition in your vehicle.
Once the vehicle is running, the device will ask for samples at random intervals. Failure to provide a sample or exceeding your BAC limit sets off an alarm until you turn off the ignition.
The device uses breath testing, hence the colloquial name, “blowbox.”
Having to install and use a blowbox can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and expensive. As such, one of the concerns that drivers have when facing impaired driving charges is whether they will need to install one.
Do I Need to Get a Blowbox for a DUI?
In some instances, if you qualify, and you want to resume driving as soon as possible after an impaired driving conviction you will be subjected to the Ontario Ignition Interlock Program. For part of this program, you will need to install a blowbox in your vehicle. Anyone is subject to the program who:
- Is convicted of an impaired driving offence under the Canadian Criminal Code
- Is suspended 3 or more times within ten years for any combination of:
- Driving with a BAC above:
- Zero, while 21 years and under
- Zero, while a novice driver
- 0.05 (warn range)
- 0.08 (legal limit)
- Failing or refusing alcohol or drug testing
- Driving impaired by a drug or a combination of drug and alcohol
- Driving with a BAC above:
If you meet these criteria you will have the ignition interlock condition on your license. So you will need to install the device if you wish to resume driving. However, you still cannot drive until the initial suspension ends. Then you can drive once the device is installed.
If you have this interlock condition, the only way not to install the device is if you do not drive until the condition is removed.
Even a first-time alcohol-related impaired driving offence results in needing to use a blowbox. However, a first-time offence may be eligible for a reduced suspension with the ignition interlock conduct review program.
Although the initial cost of installing the device generally ranges from $75 to $150, there are monthly maintenance fees that add up. The average cost of the device ends up being around $2,000.
How Long Does the Ignition Interlock Need to be Kept?
You must keep the ignition interlock for as long as the condition remains on your license. The Judge will set how long the condition remains. After completing that time, as well as all programs and covering all fees and penalties, you can have the interlock condition removed.
How long the interlock condition remains depends primarily on how many offences you have had. Typical condition lengths are:
- First-time offender: 1-year minimum
- Second-time offender: 3-year minimum
- Third-time offender: Variable. Typically, a 1-year, 3-year, or indefinite condition
- After a fourth offence, the license is never reinstated.
The interlock condition is not automatically removed after the period ends. Instead, you must fill out an application to the Ministry of Transportation to have the condition removed. Until the condition is officially removed, you must continue to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock device.
What Happens If You Blow Above The Limit?
If you blow above the pre-set limit on your blowbox, the vehicle will not start. It will also record the occurrence and may result in a longer interlock condition. If you blow above the limit while driving, alarms will go off and you may face further charges.
In addition to blowing above the limit, you will also face penalties for driving without an interlock device or attempting to tamper with it. These include longer conditions, impounding vehicles, and fines.
Do I Have to Put an Ignition Interlock on My Work Vehicle?
If you have an interlock condition on your licence, you can only drive vehicles with an approved ignition interlock device. So even if you do not own a vehicle, it needs to have a blowbox for you to drive it. This applies to your personal vehicle, a work vehicle, and even a car belonging to a spouse or parent.
If a vehicle owner lets you drive their vehicle while knowing you have an interlock condition, they may face criminal charges as well.
Hire a Toronto DUI Attorney
Impaired driving charges can have a significant impact on your life. In addition to the costs of the ignition interlock, you can face severe fines and even jail time. As well, you face greater punishments for future offences, and it can limit your options for work and travel.
If you or a loved one are facing impaired driving-related offences, contact a criminal defence lawyer for a consultation.