Ignition Interlock Laws in Delaware: Essential Information and Updates

Ignition interlock devices are becoming increasingly important in the fight against drunk driving. These devices, which are installed in the vehicles of individuals convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), require the driver to submit a breath sample before the engine will start. If the device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath above a pre-set limit, the vehicle will not start. In Delaware, ignition interlock laws have been implemented as part of a broader effort to reduce alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.

Delaware’s ignition interlock laws require mandatory installation of the device for all DUI offenders, including first-time offenders. This aligns with the state’s comprehensive approach to reducing the devastating impacts of impaired driving on Delaware roads. By enforcing mandatory ignition interlock laws, the state aims to deter individuals from getting behind the wheel under the influence, ultimately making the roads safer for everyone.

Ignition Interlock Laws Overview

Definition and Purpose

Ignition interlock laws are designed to reduce instances of driving under the influence (DUI) and alcohol-related crashes. These laws mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices (IID) in the vehicles of individuals convicted of DUI offences. The primary objective of ignition interlock laws is to prevent repeat offenses and enhance road safety.

Devices and Functionality

An ignition interlock device is an electronic gadget connected to a vehicle’s ignition system. The device functions by requiring the driver to provide a breath sample, which is tested for alcohol content, before the vehicle can be started. If the breath sample’s alcohol content exceeds a pre-determined level, the vehicle’s ignition system remains disabled, preventing the driver from operating the vehicle.

IIDs have various features and functions to ensure their effectiveness:

  • Breath sample requirement: To prevent the driver from bypassing the breath test, the device requires random re-tests while driving. If a re-test is not performed or the alcohol content is above the threshold, the device records the violation and may trigger alarms.

  • Data logging: Ignition interlock devices log data such as breath test results, vehicle activity, and any attempts to tamper with the device. This information can be used in monitoring and compliance programs.

The use of ignition interlock devices has been proven to be effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes. Research has shown that mandatory ignition interlock laws significantly reduce alcohol-involved crash deaths.

While each state has different laws regarding the use of IIDs, their primary focus remains the same: improving road safety by preventing alcohol-impaired driving. In Delaware, for example, ignition interlock devices are required for first-time offenders with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and repeat offenders.

Delaware’s Specific Regulations

Eligibility for Installation

In Delaware, Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are often required for individuals convicted of a DUI. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher, as well as second or subsequent offenders, are required to install an IID in their vehicle. The duration of the IID requirement varies depending on the number of prior offenses and severity of the offense.

Installation and Removal Process

The installation of an IID in Delaware begins with selecting a state-approved provider. Following the selection, the device is installed by a professional technician. It is crucial to attend regular maintenance appointments during the IID requirement period, as failure to comply can result in an extension of the requirement period or additional penalties.

The removal process involves contacting the approved IID provider and having a technician uninstall the device. It’s important to note that a driver must complete the full IID requirement period and successfully attend all maintenance appointments before removal is permitted. To avoid complications, ensure all fees and additional conditions are met before the removal process begins.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Scheduled Appointments

In Delaware, ignition interlock device (IID) users are required to attend scheduled appointments for the maintenance and monitoring of their device. These appointments usually occur every 30-60 days, depending on the regulations and the service provider. During these appointments, technicians will check the device for proper functioning and assess its recorded data for any violations.

It is crucial for users to attend these appointments, as failure to comply with the maintenance schedule may result in penalties, such as an extension of the IID requirement or license suspension.

Device Calibration

Device calibration is a vital aspect of IID monitoring and maintenance. During the scheduled appointments, technicians will calibrate the device to ensure its accuracy and reliability in detecting alcohol. Proper calibration ensures that the device functions correctly and helps prevent false readings.

In addition to scheduled calibrations, IID users should be attentive to any signs of malfunction, as this may affect the device’s accuracy. If there is a need for unscheduled calibration or repairs, the user must inform their service provider immediately.


IID service providers in Delaware are responsible for reporting the device’s data to the appropriate monitoring agency. This data includes information on breath alcohol test results, any attempts to tamper with or bypass the device, and user compliance with the maintenance schedule.

The monitoring agency reviews the reports to evaluate the user’s progress and compliance with the IID requirements. If any violations are detected, the agency can enforce penalties, such as license suspension or reprimand.

Keeping up with scheduled appointments, ensuring proper device calibration, and adhering to the reporting requirements are essential aspects of the ignition interlock laws in Delaware. Users must comply with these guidelines to successfully complete their IID program and regain their driving privileges.

Violations and Consequences

Circumvention Attempts

In Delaware, attempts to circumvent an ignition interlock device (IID) are taken seriously. Circumvention attempts can include having someone else blow into the device and using a separate breath sample to start the vehicle. According to a study on ignition interlock devices, these devices are designed to bypass disincentives that are normally associated with driving while intoxicated, such as fines and imprisonment. Therefore, authorities may impose strict penalties for circumvention attempts.


Tampering with an IID is also a serious violation in Delaware. This can involve physically tampering with the device, disconnecting it from the vehicle, or using any device or method to bypass the system. Delaware’s legal framework ensures that penalties for tampering with IID are firmly enforced. Consequences for such behavior can include:

  • Extended use of the ignition interlock device
  • Fines and fees
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Potential incarceration

It is imperative for DUI offenders to avoid tampering with the device to minimize these consequences.

Interlock Fails

Failing the breath test on the ignition interlock device is another violation in Delaware. If a driver starts the vehicle successfully and later fails a rolling retest, the vehicle may enter a lockdown mode and the driver can face consequences. According to a study on ignition interlock device effectiveness, these devices are effective at reducing repeat DUI offenses.

Consequences for interlock fails can depend on the number of failed attempts and the driver’s history of previous violations. They may include:

  • Additional fines or fees
  • Extension of the ignition interlock device usage period
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Mandatory treatment programs

In conclusion, Delaware enforces stringent consequences for ignition interlock violations to ensure the safety of DUI offenders and other road users. It is crucial for drivers with IIDs to adhere to the rules and avoid engaging in any violations to prevent these consequences.

Financial and Lifestyle Impacts

The installation of ignition interlocks in the vehicles of convicted drunk drivers can have significant financial and lifestyle impacts for the individuals involved. In this section, we will discuss the main areas of financial burden, namely installation costs and insurance adjustments.

Installation Costs

Upon conviction for a DUI in Delaware, offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle as a condition of regaining their driving privileges. The installation of the device comes with an initial cost, typically ranging from $70 to $150, with additional monthly maintenance fees of around $60 to $801. Although these figures may vary depending on the provider and specific device involved, the financial burden is noticeable.

These costs may pose challenges for those on a tight budget, potentially causing individuals to make difficult decisions about their spending priorities. Additionally, there may be limitations placed on the offender’s choice of vehicle to drive, as not all vehicles will be compatible with the ignition interlock device2.

Insurance Adjustments

Another financial aspect to be considered is the potential increase in car insurance premiums following a DUI conviction. In many cases, insurance companies view conviction for a DUI as a signal of high risk, which may result in higher premiums due to the individual’s risk profile.

This increase is not specific to those required to have an ignition interlock device installed, but it is a related expense as a result of the conviction. Insurance premium increases can vary widely, but it is not uncommon for individuals with a DUI conviction to see their premiums double or even triple3. These higher costs may persist for several years following the conviction, further impacting the individual’s financial situation.

Overall, the financial challenges presented by the installation of an ignition interlock device and the related insurance adjustments can have a substantial impact on an individual’s lifestyle, particularly if they are already facing financial strain. Careful consideration and planning will be necessary to navigate these challenges and successfully complete the ignition interlock program.



  1. Ignition Interlocks-What You Need to Know: A Toolkit for Policymakers, Highway Safety Professionals, and Advocates

  2. Best practice in alcohol ignition interlock schemes

  3. Insurance.com – Insurance rates and DUI

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