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What happens if you can’t afford to install an ignition interlock device?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Under Maryland law, you’re considered a repeat offender if you received more than one driving under the influence (DUI) violation within five years. As part of your penalties, officials might require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

An ignition interlock device locks your vehicle from starting unless it can detect from your breath that your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are low enough to prove your sobriety. While it can be an effective deterrent against drunk driving, an ignition interlock device can cost a lot of money to maintain for months.

The cost of an ignition interlock device

Once you receive a notice of license suspension from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), you can accept a 45-day suspension, followed by a 320-day period of using an ignition interlock device.

After the suspension period, you’ll have to set an appointment with one of the state’s approved ignition interlock service providers to install the device in your vehicle (or vehicles if you own multiple), which you’ll rent for the duration of your penalty.

The cost to install an ignition interlock device can go up to $150, and it can cost just as much per day to continue renting the device. Considering the 320 days and the requirement to have the device on all vehicles you use, the costs can add up quickly. Drivers with limited finances can get overwhelmed easily if they must pay $150 a day per vehicle to rent the devices.

Contesting ignition interlock restrictions

Fortunately, you can challenge an ignition interlock restriction if you can prove financial hardship. During your appointment with an approved ignition interlock service provider, you can request the provider to review your financial situation because you’re applying for financial hardship.

The provider will assess your condition and prepare documentation proving your financial hardship. To be eligible, your family income level should be less than the following:

  • For a family of one: $26,580
  • Family of two: $35,820
  • Family of three: $45,060
  • Family of four: $54,300
  • Family of five: $65,540
  • Family of six or more members: $65,540, with an additional $9,240 per relative beyond the sixth

Once you meet the requirement, you can request a hearing before the state Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) within 15 days of the notice date. Once the OAH receives your request, it will notify you of the date, time and location of your hearing.

During the hearing, you’ll have to prove to the administrative judge that your financial hardship will make maintaining ignition interlock devices on your vehicles difficult. This can be easier said than done, and even with supporting documents the judge might decide to exempt only some and not all your automobiles from installation. Your testimony will be key to waiving the device requirement. And while it’s not a strict requirement, having a legal professional at your side during the hearing may be helpful.