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Cold weather AND YOUR ignition interlock device

what can happen when the big freeze comes?

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If you’ve been charged with DWI, an ignition interlock device is an option that may be available and allow you to drive while your license is in limbo. But freezing temperatures can interfere with the device’s ability to function.

An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if a certain, pre-programmed level of alcohol is detected on a driver’s breath. Before the car will start, the driver must provide a breath sample by blowing into the device. If the sample is below the prohibited level, the vehicle will start just like it normally does.

However, if too much alcohol is detected, the driver will be locked out for a period of time and must wait before giving another breath sample. The length of the lock-out periods will usually increase with each failed sample until a good sample is detected. What’s more, failed alcohol readings can result in increased revocation/ignition interlock periods.

Drivers charged with DWI in Minnesota may be able to get back on the road more quickly if they agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. The problem is that winter is pretty harsh here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and freezing temperatures could mess with the device’s detection circuitry.

The problem stems from the moisture in your breath, which collects in the device with each sample you provide. In freezing conditions, the collected moisture may freeze inside the device and affect its ability to function properly. This means that you may get locked out or an “alcohol present” sample may be recorded, even if you have not been drinking.

There are a few ways to avoid this trouble. If you can, detach your device from your vehicle and bring it inside during cold weather. Otherwise, hanging the unit upside down over the steering wheel or column, with the mouthpiece removed, will help to keep the moisture away from the internal circuitry. Finally, if possible, the device should be programmed to turn on at a set time, several minutes before normal departure, so it will warm once the vehicle starts.

Freezing temperatures can interfere with the ignition interlock devices ability to function.

If you find yourself facing DWI or OWI charges and need to explore your options for getting your driving privileges restored, our seasoned lawyers can help. Our DWI Defense attorneys are available 24-7 — Call us at (612) 334-3342.

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