Ignition Interlock Devices Don’t Work on Most Electric Vehicles

electric car charging

An ignition interlock device (IID) can be installed in a vehicle as part of the sentencing requirements for someone who has been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). The IID prevents the vehicle from starting unless the driver first provides a breath sample that proves that they have not consumed alcohol recently. Ignition interlock devices have always been controversial, but their use has become even more complicated with the increase in the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs). For the most part, ignition interlock devices do not work with electric vehicles, as well as many hybrid (gas-electric) vehicles.

When are Ignition Interlock Devices Used?

Courts can order the use of an ignition interlock device under varying conditions to penalize DWI offenders. The exact specifics of use will also depend on the state in which the DWI conviction occurs.

In Minnesota, IIDs can be used for:

  • First-time DWI offenses: With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.16 or higher
  • Second-time DWI offenses: With any BAC level
  • Three or more DWI offenses within 10 years: Required IID use for 3 to 6 years.

Electric Vehicle & Ignition Interlock Incompatibility

As the name implies, an ignition interlock device is installed and integrated with a vehicle’s ignition system. This specific design works primarily with gas-powered vehicles equipped with a 12-volt starter. As such, most electric vehicles and some hybrid vehicles are not compatible with a typical ignition interlock device.

Any individual who is convicted of a DWI and is required to use an ignition interlock device through the court’s mandate, and who only owns an electric vehicle, cannot have one installed, and therefore, technically cannot comply with that requirement. Therefore, they will not have any driving privileges for the duration of the IID requirement, which could be multiple years. Effectively, electric vehicle owners can be inordinately penalized by DWI convictions just for purchasing a vehicle that is better for the environment.

What EVs Can’t Use Ignition Interlock Devices?

It is not known how many electric vehicles are incompatible with ignition interlock devices. However, as many IID installation centers can attest, the number of vehicles that are confirmed to not work with IIDs is growing.

Vehicles that are incompatible with ignition interlock devices include:

  • 100% electric vehicles
  • Tesla vehicles of any model
  • Many hybrid-electric vehicles, especially newer models
    • 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid/Electric
    • Ford C MAX
    • Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hybrid
    • Nissan Leaf
    • 2022 Mercedes Hybrid
    • 2022 BMW X5 Hybrid
    • 2022 Lexus NX Hybrid

Fighting DWI Charges & IID Requirements

As someone who has been accused of a DWI, you need to beware of how the sentencing requirements can impact your livelihood, especially if you own an electric or hybrid vehicle. If you are required to use an ignition interlock device, then it could effectively strip your driving privileges until the revocation periods ends or you get a non-electric vehicle. You should work with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in your area to help avoid this unfair outcome.

For DWI defense done right in Minneapolis, dial (612) 444-5020 and get a FREE initial consultation with Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A., Minnesota’s premier law firm for difficult defense cases.

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