Idaho authorities kicked off 2019 with a new law that requires both first-time DUI offenders in Idaho and individuals who refuse to take a roadside test for drugs and alcohol to install something called an ignition interlock system in their vehicles. The interlock system requires a driver to blow into the system before their vehicle will run. If the system detects any alcohol, the engine will not start. The interlock system is also installed at the owner's expense and comes with a monthly fee, unless the offender can prove financial hardship and is granted funds from the Court Interlock Device and Electronic Monitoring Device Fund.
Before this new law took effect on January 1, judges were given the discretion to decide whether the interlock system was appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Now, however, judges are given less discretion because the statute requires that they order the installation of the interlock system unless an exception applies.
As to the exceptions, Idaho Code Section 18-8002(12) states that to stand any chance at being relieved from the interlock requirement, the offender must show by clear and convincing evidence that he or she either:
- Will not present a danger to the public, or
- There are exceptional or mitigating circumstances demonstrating that installation of the device is unnecessary or unwarranted.
Now, the tough question: how do you show a judge that you fall within one of these exceptions?
Because the statute is so new, at this point, it's really unknown. However, this is what we do know:
- The statute clearly states that financial hardship, alone, is not enough to be relieved of the interlock requirement. Thus, telling a judge that you can't afford the interlock system won't do you any good in arguing that you shouldn't have to install it.
- Although clear and convincing evidence is a very high standard of proof, the exceptions are written broadly and leave room to argue that the device is not appropriate for certain first-time offenders.
- First-time DUI offenders who do not have a criminal history involving alcohol-related offenses probably stand a better chance at proving to a judge that the interlock system is unnecessary than offenders who have struggled with alcohol in the past.
- There are certain things an offender can proactively do to sometimes set themselves up for lower punishments. One of those things is an alcohol evaluation and the completion of alcohol courses recommended by the evaluation. The evaluation is required as part of any DUI conviction to determine if substance abuse issues are a concern. If you are a first-time DUI offender and have to complete the evaluation and courses any way, complete them right out of the gate and use them to help demonstrate to a judge that you have a low risk of re-offense and do not present a danger to public.