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What is an ignition interlock and why are they necessary?

People in New Hampshire facing a drunk driving charge may be ordered to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. If you are ordered to have this installed, you have to use an approved vendor. As of 2018, there are two for the entire state.

An ignition interlock device is ordered in an effort to stop future instances of drunk driving for a person who has been convicted. When the court orders this, there will be a specific amount of time that you will need to keep it on your vehicle.

What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock requires a breath sample in order to allow the vehicle to start. If the sample contains more alcohol than the limit of the device, the car won't start. Periodically, the device will alert you that a new sample is needed. You must pull over as soon as you can safely do so to provide the sample. If the breath sample is too high, the vehicle won't start again. If it is below range, you can be on your way.

What do I do if I'm required to install one?

After the vendor installs the device, you need to get a Certificate of Installation. This must be taken to the Bureau of Financial Responsibility, which is in Concord, before you can drive again. A restriction noting that you must use the device is placed on your license. You can't have it removed until there is a court order noting that you have completed your entire term with it in place.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Once your license indicates that you need an ignition interlock, you can't drive any vehicle without one. This means that if you have to drive a company vehicle, the company must allow you to have it installed on that vehicle or you aren't legally able to drive it.

Once the ignition interlock is in place, anyone who drives that car must blow into it or they won't be able to start it. This can put an undue toll on others, but it is necessary to ensure that no drunk driving occurs.

An ignition interlock is only one of the possible sentence components that you might face. Time in jail, fines, community service and education programs are also possible. Your defense strategy should take these possibilities into account.

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