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Blow and go? An update on Kentucky's ignition interlock law

If you get a DUI in Kentucky, you might have to install an ignition interlock device in order to get your driving privileges back. A new law on the use of these devices took effect in Kentucky last year.

There was considerable confusion, however, about how the regulations for the new law would apply.

In this post, we will update on how the new law is being used.

What ignition interlocks do

An ignition interlock is a device for monitoring the breath-alcohol content (BAX) of the driver of a vehicle. The car won't start if the BAC is too high.

These devices have become increasingly common across the country in recent years. Indeed, in some states bowing into a mouthpiece before getting on the road is sometimes known simply as "blow and go."

Kentucky was the 25th state to require ignition interlocks under certain circumstances.

Kentucky's new law

As we noted in our December 22 post, however, Kentucky's new ignition interlock law is not primarily about posing an additional layer of punishment. It is more like an opportunity to regain driving privileges that would otherwise to be lost for a longer period of time.

Getting court approval to install an ignition interlock device (IID) can enable you to get back behind the wheel quicker on a special license after a DUI conviction that had aggravating circumstances or was a second or subsequent offense within 5 years.

These special licenses used to be called "hardship licenses"

An example getting an IID can help

Without an IID, your license will be suspended for a longer period of time. For example, let's say you got an aggravated DUI for having a child under 12 in your vehicle while you were impaired.

For a first offense DUI with an aggravating circumstance, you're looking at losing your license for at least 30 days. If you are approved for an ignition interlock, you could start driving again. But if you don't get an IID, your license will be suspended for six months.

To be sure, eligibility for an ignition interlock depends on your five-year driving history. There are certain offenses, such as conviction on a hit-and-run charge, that make you ineligible to apply.

So how is the new law working?

According to data from the state Department of Transportation, 340 ignition interlocks were approved and installed between September 1, 2015 and May 20, 2016. That is a relatively low number considering that it includes the entire state of Kentucky.

Cost may be one factor for why more people haven't chosen to pursue the IID option. There isn't only a one-time charge; there are also monthly services fees from the vendor.

The bigger reason for the low number, however, is that the process is new and can be difficult to understand. The application process starts with getting court permission, but the state transportation department is also involved.

This is where having a knowledgeable attorney on your side is really important. Your attorney can help you protect your driving privileges and guide you through the process of getting lost privileges back.

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