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Ignition Interlock Devices in Wisconsin


While an OWI conviction in Wisconsin generally results in a jail sentence, fines, license suspension, and counseling, it could also include installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the defendant’s vehicle(s).

An IID prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed alcohol. The device is similar to a breathalyzer, meaning the driver blows into the device that measures the amount of alcohol on the driver’s breath. If the driver’s BAC is .02 percent, then the ignition will be temporarily locked, preventing the driver from operating the vehicle.

The following are the types of offenders who will be required to install an IID upon conviction:

  • First-time OWI offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher
  • Repeat OWI offenders
  • OWI offenders who refused to take a chemical test after arrest

A person generally has three attempts within five minutes to provide a breath sample to start the ignition. A “temporary lockout”—that lasts up to 15 minutes—occurs if a person fails the provide a breath sample after the third attempt.

Remember, a second breath sample will be requested five minutes after the vehicle has started—and perhaps at random intervals while the car is in motion. These are known as “rolling retests.”

Those who are required to install an IID cannot operate any vehicle which doesn’t have the device. Additionally, the person must install the device on each vehicle he/she owns. For example, if the individual owns four cars, then four IIDs must be installed. Failure to install an IID in every owned vehicle is punishable by a maximum six-month jail term, fines of up to $600, and an extension of the IID period of up to six months.

If a convicted OWI offender chooses to not drive, they cannot “wait out” the IID time limit. Doing so could result in failure to comply with the IID order. Whenever the offender decides to restore their driving privileges, the IID time limit will begin.

If an offender is able to obtain a hardship license, which allows them to drive to and from work or school, to make important appointments, or to perform household duties, they are required to install an IID.

For more information about IIDs in Wisconsin, contact our Milwaukee OWI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today.

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