Interlock ignition devices are a way for the state of Wisconsin to protect everyone on the road from the dangers of drunk driving, including those who are operating the vehicle.
If you have interfered with the normal operation with one of these devices, whether accidentally or intentionally, you may find yourself facing legal penalties.
To help you make sense of what the charges cover and the possible outcomes of a conviction, here is what you need to know about Wisconsin's interlock ignition device (IID) installation and tampering laws.
Read the article, "4 Things to Know About Ignition Interlock Devices and Wisconsin OWI" by Stangl Law to learn more.
About Wisconsin Interlock Ignition Device Law
The state of Wisconsin mandates the installation of IIDs in the vehicles of those charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or greater at the time of arrest or if they have prior OWI-related convictions.
Each Class D vehicle that is registered to the offender must then be equipped with an IID. There is a financial hardship exception that allows the court to reduce the number of vehicles that must have a device installed or reduce the offender's financial obligation to half of the installation and operation costs.
Any intentional damage or misuse of the IID may be charged as tampering and subject to penalty, including circumvention of the device by having someone else provide the breath sample. Failing to install the IID within two weeks of receiving the court order is viewed the same as tampering under the law.
Although the law bans tampering, any repairs that are necessary for the normal operation of the device are exempt from punishment. While knowledge of the law is not necessary to be charged with violation of it, the statutes do require the state to affix notifications to the devices that inform the reader of the penalties that could be incurred if they do.
Penalties of Tampering With Interlock Ignition Device in Wisconsin
The state may punish those charged with IID tampering with both fines and imprisonment.
On the first offense of IID tampering, the financial penalty ranges from $150 to $600. Prison time of up to six months may be substituted or added to the monetary punishment.
For subsequent charges within five years, the financial penalties escalate to a range of $300 to $1,000, while the prison sentence cap remains at six months. In the likely case that an interlock device was installed by order of the court in response to an alcohol-related driving incident or refusal to take a roadside inebriation test, each charge of interlock ignition device tampering will extend the duration of the mandatory installation for six months.
Preparing for Your Hearing
To have the best chances of reducing penalties or avoiding conviction, you need the aid of legal counsel that intimately knows Wisconsin's policies on OWIs and IIDs.
Look for an experienced criminal defense attorney with a history of producing results for their clients in the face of stiff and stringent regulations.