Ignition Interlock Program
Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program, which began in 1989, is monitored by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Today’s Ignition Interlock Program is fully automated, which allows the MVA to efficiently monitor participants and take action against program violators. Maryland has the sixth highest number of ignition interlocks installed and the ninth highest usage rate in the nation. Maryland MDOT/MVA now requires, due to legislative changes in 2019, participants to install a camera enabled ignition interlock device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drinking and driving is a serious national public health and safety issue. Over the past five years, impaired drivers have accounted for roughly one third of all roadway deaths in Maryland. On average, there are 7,884 impaired driving crashes statewide, resulting in 171 fatalities and 4,026 injuries every year.
Ignition Interlock is a tool to help keep drunk drivers off our roads. It allows drivers to continue driving -- sober. An individual participating in the Program can only operate motor vehicles that are equipped with an ignition interlock device.
An ignition interlock device means a camera enabled device that connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a driver’s alcohol concentration and prevents a motor vehicle ignition from starting the motor vehicle if a driver’s alcohol concentration exceeds the calibrated setting on the device. The device also records certain information about its use that is reviewed by the Service Provider every thirty days.
The driver must blow into a mouthpiece connected to the device, allowing the device to measure the driver’s breath alcohol content (BAC). If the device registers a BAC greater than .025, it will not allow the vehicle to start. The device will ask for additional retests while the vehicle is being driven. It is not necessary to stop driving while taking a retest.
Maryland Vehicle Law and the Code of Maryland Regulations establish the requirements for participation, the standards for certification, installation, repair and removal of interlock devices, the eligibility requirements for participants, and the standards for Service Providers.
If eligible, the driver may immediately elect to participate – in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program instead of serving the Administrative Per Se suspension period (see Impaired Driving Laws). Your election to participate and instructions can be found on the reverse side of the driver copy of the "Order of Suspension."
Instead of requesting a hearing or upon the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, you may elect to participate in the Ignition Interlock System Program. An Ignition Interlock Election form is located on the reverse side of the driver’s copy of the Order of Suspension.
If you elect to participate, you will be enrolled in the Ignition Interlock Program for:
- 180 days, if you submitted to a test indicating an alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15,
- 1 year if you submitted to a test indicating an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher, or
- 1 year if you refused to submit to the test.
If you successfully complete the Ignition Interlock Program for your Administrative Per Se sanctions, you may receive credit toward future Ignition Interlock Program enrollment arising from this same incident.
Drivers may also be referred to the Ignition Interlock Program by District Courts, Administrative Law Judges, and the MVA. The determinations of whether a driver is eligible for or must participate in the program and for how long are usually made by one of the following entities:
In addition, the MVA's Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) may offer or require a driver to participate if they have accumulated sufficient "points," is a "repeat offender," violates a previously imposed alcohol-related driving restriction, or has received an order of suspension for an alcohol test failure or refusal.
As of October 1, 2016 under Noah’s Law, drivers are required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program for the following convictions:
- Driving under the influence (DUI);
- Driving while impaired (DWI) while transporting a minor under the age of 16;
- Driving while intoxicated with an initial breathalyzer test refusal; and
- Homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI.
The law will affect anyone stopped in Maryland and cited for a DWI/DUI offense. Out of State licensee convicted of a DWI/DUI charge in a Maryland Court of Law, that conviction will be forwarded to the licensee’s home state for any penalties they deemed appropriate.
Your first step should be to carefully review all of the materials that you received. It may be helpful to review Alcohol Test Failure or Refusal.
If you have been ordered to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program or have decided to opt in, then contact one of the MVA’s authorized Ignition Interlock Service Providers and schedule an appointment to have the ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle that you will be driving. When the device is installed, the provider will show you how to use it, advise you about the monthly maintenance and reporting requirements, and provide you with written proof that the device was installed.
Next, take the proof of installation - AJ-013, which you received from you service provider, and your current driver's license to any MVA branch office and request an "Interlock restricted" driver's license. The license will look simliar to your previous license but it will have the code letter "J" under the heading "RESTR".
To be eligible to participate, you must meet the following conditions:
1. Your driver’s license is not currently suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused; and
2. Within thirty (30) days of the date of the Order of Suspension you must:
- Have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle by one of the approved Service Providers;
- Surrender to the MVA your valid Maryland driver’s license, or in the event your license is not in your possession, sign a certified statement that your license is no longer in your possession; and
- Elect in writing to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program by completing and returning the bottom portion of this form along with the sealed or ink stamped enrollment form AJ-013 from the service provider to any full service MVA office to obtain a non-commercial Maryland driver’s license restricted to the operation only of vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device.
- If you possess a commercial driver’s license, in order to participate in the Program, you will be required to downgrade to a non-commercial driver’s license.
The MVA oversees drivers referred to the Ignition Interlock Program. Drivers are required to report to a service provider every 30 days to have the device calibrated and the data downloaded. Failure to report can result in removal from the program and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
The data logger records every transaction, along with the date, time and detail of any violation. This information is reported to the MVA. Any indication of a BAC greater than .025, a bypass attempt or other indication of non-compliance is considered a violation of the program.
Typically, the Service Provider prepares a report for the MVA each month that includes information about:
- You the driver, your vehicle and other program information;
- Any instances where you had a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC);
- Any instances where you tried to start the vehicle without taking the test;
- Any instances where you failed the rolling retest or refused to take it;
- Any bypass of the device, which is if you tampered with or disconnected the device;
- The number of times your vehicle was started and stopped;
Participants who are found to have violated any of the Program provisions will be subject to removal from the Ignition Interlock Program and the MVA will impose the full period of suspension.
Violations of the Program rules and requirements include, but are not limited to the following:
There are some everyday items that contain small amounts of alcohol and may cause the interlock device to record a violation. Medications such as asthma inhalers and/or medications containing small amounts of alcohol may cause violations as well. The Interlock Participant will be held responsible if any of these alcohol-based products cause them to violate the system. To prevent this, the Service Provider will instruct you regarding ignition interlock failures and what you can do to avoid them.
Each time you have one or more violations during a monitoring period, you will receive a violation notice and your required time in the program will be extended by 30 days. If there is a fourth monitoring period containing a violation, you will be removed from the Interlock Program, and your original suspension or revocation will be imposed.
If a driver is removed from the program due to violations, they may request a hearing within 15 days of their removal notice or they may choose to re-enroll in the Interlock Program for the entire originally assigned time, after surrendering their interlock restricted license and serving a minimum suspension period of 30 days.
When you receive information about the program, you should be advised of the minimum length of time that you must participate. However, this time period could be extended if you violate any of the program rules or if you have other driving-related problems. Also, it is important to understand that you will not begin receiving credit for participating in the program until you have had the ignition interlock device installed and obtained the interlock restricted driver's license.
A participant is deemed to have successfully completed the Interlock Program once the Administration receives data from the Service Provider with no violations in the final three (3) months of the participation period.
Interlock cases are managed by a team of Interlock case manager and participants are not assigned to specific case managers, as they were in the past. All correspondence you will receive from the Interlock department includes the Interlock Unit’s direct line as well as their email address. The Interlock phone line is answered by customer support personnel who answers your call can assist you with many of your questions and requests. If they cannot help you, a message will be given to a case manager who will contact you within 24 hours.
Participants are responsible for all costs associated with the program participation.
There is a cost when obtaining an interlock restricted driver’s license from MVA.
There is a cost when obtaining a corrected driver’s license from MVA when the restriction is removed after the customer is no longer in the Program.
There is a cost from the ignition interlock Service Provider for installation of the device and there is also a monthly servicing cost. Vendors have varying installation and monitoring charges.
The MDOT MVA will
waive the $47 enrollment fee for all participants who provide documentation
that they are on medical or food assistance. Interlock providers are
private companies who offer interlock devices at different prices that are not
set by the MDOT MVA. However, interlock providers are required to offer
the ignition interlock at a 50% of their normal rental rate for customers who
are on different types of assistance. If you are on food assistance, please inquire
directly with the interlock provider company for the reduced rental rate.
Complete the application to waive interlock fees here.
Once you have completed your required participation period including any extensions, please bring your vehicle to your ignition interlock service center any time after your completion date for one final download of data. The MVA will receive this data overnight. If there are no violations noted, a successful completion letter will be generated and mailed. You may take the successful completion letter to any MVA branch office to have the interlock restriction removed from your driver's license. Following this, you may have the interlock device removed from your vehicle.
All Maryland Ignition Interlock Vendors are required to offer accommodations to assist customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some vendors provide this accommodation in the form of an additional light bar attached to the dashboard which flashes when a test is required, some vendors have devices that offer visual and or vibration notification and some vendors offer a flashing LED that is integrated to work with the handset.
After a driver has passed their initial test to start driving their vehicle, the Ignition Interlock will require a random test. It's sometimes called a “rolling retest," but that's not the right term. Ignition Interlock clients shouldn't be rolling at all because it could potentially put them in danger. Never keep rolling during a random retest.
When prompted for an Ignition Interlock random retest:
- Pull off the road safely into an area without traffic.
- Put the car in park, but don't turn it off.
- Provide an Ignition Interlock breath sample.
Your car will never turn off during an Ignition Interlock random retest, no matter what the result.
Best industry practices to signal a random test is a beeping sound but for clients who are deaf or hard of hearing, the device can include an external LED flashes so that clients know that a random retest is required.
When you schedule your Ignition Interlock installation appointment, please let the agents know that you are a deaf or hard of hearing so that the service center installs the proper equipment.
They will also provide one-on-one training which includes closed caption videos.
Do not leave your car running.
- Some people get in the habit of leaving their car running unattended for a few reasons: letting it warm up during cold weather, running into the gas station or chatting in the parking lot with coworkers after work. However, your ignition interlock device can prompt you for a random retest at any time, and if you're not in the car to hear the alert, you could miss the test. This missed test counts as a failed test and will be included on your monthly report, so make sure to shut off your vehicle whenever you are not driving.
Do not let your car go unused for long periods.
- A car breathalyzer depends on your car battery to work. You need to have a fully operational battery for both your car and your interlock device to function properly. A best practice is to operate your vehicle at least once every two to three days to ensure your battery stays in good working condition and doesn't lose full charge.
Do not skip your monthly calibration service.
- Device calibrations are required to ensure your ignition interlock device operates properly and accurately. You will need to have your device calibrated every 30 days. Skipping this important maintenance component can result in a lockout of your device.
Do not tamper with the device.
- An attempt to tamper with ignition interlock device is illegal. These attempts are violations and will show up on your monthly reports.
Driver Wellness and Safety (DW&S) Division
6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
Glen Burnie, MD 21062
For telephone questions:
MVA Customer Service Center: 1-410-768-7000
TTY/Hearing Impaired: 1-301-729-4563
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System: 1-410-768-7000