The Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes drunk driving charges very seriously. The state usually calls these offenses operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI), and the potential penalties include fines, jail time and the suspension of your driver’s license. Many people facing OUI charges worry about the potential for jail time. It isn’t until they’ve learned the consequences that they start to realize the serious impact of losing their license.

Not being able to drive puts you at the mercy of public transportation, ride sharing services or the goodwill of your friends and co-workers. Not only could it impact your ability to get to work on time every day, it could also leave your family vulnerable if you can’t seek emergency medical care or run errands. Thankfully, Massachusetts offers an ignition interlock device program that allows some people convicted of OUI offenses to maintain the privilege of driving.

What is the ignition interlock device program?

Since 2005, those accused of OUI offenses have faced harsher penalties for operating a vehicle after drinking. The state also implemented its ignition interlock device (IID) program, which requires people convicted of multiple OUI offenses to install an IID in their vehicles.

The length of time that the device needs to stay in the vehicle varies depending on the circumstances. In some cases, the IID is part of the transition from suspension back to having a license. For those who receive a conditional hardship license after a conviction, an IID is also required.

An IID is a device installed in your vehicle that prevents the engine from starting if you cannot pass a chemical breath test. The device may also require sporadic testing while you operate the vehicle. The conditions of having a limited license restrict you from intentionally disabling or otherwise manipulating the system to drive after drinking.

An IID helps you stay independent

Relying on public transportation or ride services is both expensive and inconvenient. You may find yourself arriving late or missing important events altogether. Over time, this kind of problem can cost you your job and even damage your personal relationships. Maintaining the mobility and independence that comes from a driver’s license is critical for many adults.

Whether you must install an IID to get your license back or you have the option to install one as part of a restricted license program, make sure you understand the restrictions placed on your license. In some cases, you may only be allowed to drive for a certain number of hours each day. You must also only drive a vehicle that has an IID installed. Any violation of these conditions could mean the loss of your license and other serious penalties.