Ignition Interlock Devices, or “IIDs,” are essentially personal breathalyzer devices that are intended to prevent a drunk individual from starting a car. An IID is temporarily installed in the motor vehicles of many people recently convicted of OUI so as to require the driver to pass a breath test of their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) before the vehicle will be able to start.

While the legal limit for BAC in the state of Massachusetts is 0.08%, you will not be able to start your vehicle unless the IID registers a reading of 0.02% or less. This lower limit is set by the state as a condition of the sentence for OUI conviction. The notion is to hold persons convicted of OUI to a high standard and ensure that safe driving habits are reinforced, although such a low reading can also put you at additional risk of accidentally failing the test for innocent reasons, such as mouthwash, medicine, or medical conditions.

Who Is Normally Required to Install an IID?

For many years, ignition interlock device laws in Massachusetts mandated that anyone convicted of OUI for a second, third, or fourth time must install an IID for two years upon the reinstatement of their license (or acquisition of a hardship license). A fifth or subsequent OUI conviction in Massachusetts results in a lifetime driver’s license suspension with no eligibility for a hardship license, so interlock ignition device laws do not require installation in those cases. 

Recent Changes in MA Ignition Interlock Device Laws

The regulations governing the Massachusetts IID program have recently expanded (at the end of 2020) to include many first offenders. The state legislature approved an amendment as a part of the 2021 spending plan that will now authorize the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles (RMV) to place special restrictions on hardship licenses that will require IID installation in certain cases. Specifically, the budget rider defines the new IID rules to include any case in which defendants were convicted of operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.

If the newly expanded law goes no further, this may still mean drivers with BAC readings under 0.15% will be able to return to the road without an IID installed. It will be critical to keep an eye on this evolving area of Massachusetts ignition interlock device laws to see if new amendments further expand the authorization to include every person convicted of OUI.

What About My OUI Case?

Starting with 2021, anyone charged with OUI is at risk of state-mandated IID installation.  But what if your breathalyzer test results are inaccurate, improperly gathered, or otherwise barred from court? Whether the breathalyzer result can impact your IID requirements or hardship license conditions will depend on many factors, such as RMV appeals and other details of your case.

If you’ve recently been charged with OUI, consult with a professional OUI defense attorney about the nuances of Massachusetts ignition interlock device laws and how they may personally affect your situation.

The Massachusetts OUI Survival Guide