If a motorist in Kentucky is caught driving under the influence (DUI), they may be subject to extensive penalties, even upon a first offense. The first punishment will likely be driver’s license suspension or revocation. But after the license is reinstated, a judge may order an ignition interlock device be installed, depending on the severity of the DUI conviction.

An ignition interlock device prevents a vehicle from starting unless the driver provides a breath sample showing they are not intoxicated.  If an ignition interlock device is mandated, then according to Kentucky law, the device must meet certain criteria. First, the ignition interlock device must be designed in a way that will measure the driver’s breath alcohol concentration by taking a sample of their breath blown directly into the device. The device will also be constructed in a way so that the ignition system of the vehicle in which it is installed will not be activated if the operator’s breath exceeds 0.02 percent alcohol concentration. Additionally, the ignition interlock device must meet or exceed performance standards that are contained in the Model Specifications for Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices (BAIIDS) published in 1992.

Motorists can expect the ignition interlock device to:

  1. Record each time their vehicle is started
  2. Record the results of the driver’s alcohol concentration
  3. Record the length of time the vehicle is in operation
  4. Detect any evidence of tampering with the device

If the vehicle has stalled for some reason, the ignition interlock device will allow a sample-free restart of the vehicle if the stall was for two (2) minutes or less. If the vehicle is functioning normally, the driver will be required to provide a fresh breath sample ten (10) minutes after the car is started in order to keep the vehicle operating and then upon random intervals that are not to exceed sixty (60) minutes.

If the driver does not retest their breath, then the device will lock for five (5) days and the vehicle will not be allowed to restart. The ignition interlock device will also prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver fails the breath test.

Kentucky law specifies that the ignition interlock device must be calibrated at least once every ninety (90) days to make sure it is working properly. If not, then the device must be exchanged for a properly working one.

The state’s Division of Driver Licensing Requirements will have a record of all companies who manufacture ignition interlock devices that meet Kentucky law requirements.

While an ignition interlock device has the power to save lives, there is also a chance it can backfire. The device must function properly in order to prevent any mishaps, but what happens to the driver if the device is faulty and shows that the breath sample is over the limit when in reality, it is sober? The car may not restart, leaving the driver stranded. Or, the vehicle may shut down in an area where there is traffic, leading to an accident and wounding the driver and any other motorist or pedestrian at the scene.

Kentucky’s laws against drunk driving are strict, but a first-time DUI conviction can lead a motorist to bed stuck with an ignition interlock device for at least six (6) months, which can be pretty harsh.

It is important for all motorists in the state to know that they have a right to seek legal help with an experienced Kentucky DUI lawyer in the event that they are arrested for driving while intoxicated. Kentucky DUI defense attorneys can help reduce penalties and may even prevent a conviction. The faster a legal professional is called in to handle a DUI case, the better the chances of the case resolving favorably and fairly.