At Zeliff | Watson, we fight for interlock hardship waivers for our clients on a weekly basis. If you have been convicted of a DUI within 5 years of a prior DUI (a second in five DUI) or more, the Judge will likely hand down a sentence including fines, jail time, probation, community service, and surrendering any driver’s licenses you have. After a minimum of four months you can apply for a limited interlock permit from the same Judge, but only if you are in what the court deems an adequate treatment program. The license will be limited so that you must install an Ignition Interlock Device on any cars that you drive and meet a minimum suspension requirement.
You should look to the documents given to you by the Judge, court clerks, probation officers, and the Department of Driver Services, or talk to an Attorney to see if you might need an Ignition Interlock Device. Remember, the cost of an ignition interlock device is on you. These devices carry both a one-time installation fee and a monthly service fee that must be paid each month.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An Ignition Interlock Device is a piece of equipment that is installed in a person's car, at their own expense, that requires the person to blow into a tube (similar to the police's breath-sensor) in order to start and operate the car. The device will not allow a person to drive with a certain amount of alcohol on their breath. If a person tries to start the car and fails because of alcohol on the person's breath, then the people who installed and monitor the device may have to report that to the authorities. Ignition Interlock devices are available from a number of sources in Georgia for a range of prices with an installation fee and a monthly monitoring fee (typically a few hundred dollars for installation and around another hundred dollars a month for the monitoring). In addition, the person must take the car with the device in to the installer for regular monthly monitoring and maintenance while it is installed on the person's car.
Why would the court excuse me from installing an ignition interlock device?
The Judge may excuse you from having the ignition interlock device if it is a serious financial hardship and does not interfere with the purpose of the punishment and safety to the community. The Judge is unlikely to excuse you from the ignition interlock requirement even if it is a financial burden if you are still in the suspension or probation period from the DUI. Some situations where the Judge is likely to excuse you from this requirement is if you have moved from Georgia after finishing probation or if it has been more than five years from your last DUI. The Judge will look carefully to see if the device is truly an unnecessary burden and Judges have a wary eye for people trying to simply avoid the punishment. Remember, even if you can get a hardship waiver for the interlock device, a minimum suspension period must still pass on a second or subsequent DUI.
What questions will I need to answer and what documents will I need to provide?
It is a good idea to keep a folder full of all documents at all related to the charge – everything from the citation given to you by the police to a copy of the final order from the Judge, and everything between and after that. The most useful documents at this stage will probably be the final orders from the Judge and administrative documents from clerks, probation officers, and the Department of Driver Services – the Judge will probably not remember you and will enjoy all the documents that you can provide.
Your Attorney will probably want to know the following information:
a. Where and when were your prior DUI convictions (counties and dates of arrest and conviction)?
b. Have you completed all the other court ordered punishments and requirements? What might you have left to do?
c. Have you had any arrests since that last DUI conviction (DUI or otherwise)?
d. All the details of your financial situation:
i. Are you employed?
ii. Do you receive support from your family or the government? How?
iii. Does your family rely on you for support? How?
iv. What do you own? House? Car? Etc.?
e. Why do you need your driver's license back now?
f. Where do you currently live - in what state and county?
Examples of Ignition Interlock Hardship Situations:
These examples are simple illustrations and are not based on any specific cases - the names and facts are entirely hypothetical. That said, these are some regular types of cases we see.
Andy was convicted of his second DUI offense in 5 years in 2010 in Cobb County. He finished all the other punishments and requirements that the court assigned... but he didn't need to get his license then, so he never drove and never got the ignition interlock device. In 2014, Andy moved to Mississippi. Andy wanted to get his license for a new job, but the Mississippi Department of Driver Services told him that Georgia had a “hold” on his license. Andy called the Georgia Department of Driver Services and they told him that he had not installed an interlock device in Georgia as required by the court. They tell Andy that unless he gets an exemption by the court, he will have to move back to Georgia, get a car and install an interlock device, and then live in Georgia for 6 months with his installed interlock device. This seems unfair, right?
It is! Instead of going through this long and expensive process of fulfilling a long-overdue punishment that Andy was not able to complete due to his circumstances, the judge may decide that Andy's situation makes interlock unnecessary. The judge may excuse Andy from installing an ignition interlock in Georgia because Andy has completed all the other requirements and has moved out of the state, if the judge agrees that interlock would be an undue financial hardship for the above-reasons. If he receives the judge’s wavier, Andy can turn it into DDS in Georgia, then get his Mississippi license and carry on with his normal life.
Betty was convicted of her second DUI offense in 5 years in 2008 in Forsyth County. She, like Andy, finished all her other requirements that the court assigned. But, like Andy, she did not need to drive so she never got the ignition interlock device. Now, 7 years later, she would like to get her license. By a strict operation of law she would have to install the device and deal with having it on her car for 6 months - this is long after her other punishments have ran their course. Further, she can show that the hundreds of dollars that she would have to pay for the device is a serious hardship on her and her family. Because she finished all the other punishments, she has not had any DUIs in more than five years, and she has shown that the device would cost her more than the protection it might provide to the community, her Judge will probably excuse her from getting the device.
Charlie was convicted of his second DUI offense in 5 years in 2013 in Pickens County. He has completed DUI school, paid his fines, did his time, and still has 6 months left on his probation. He lives with his wife, their child, and her parents. He does have a job but because he cannot drive it has been a big burden on his family: getting everyone to and from work and school is a constant struggle. Charlie and his family looked over their finances and talked to some interlock providers, but they simply cannot afford to have an interlock device installed and maintained on their car. If Charlie asks his Judge to waive the interlock requirement then the Judge will have a very tough decision to make.
Contact an Experienced Attorney.
An experienced attorney is the best person to evaluate your present situation and may offer advice on how to proceed. Only after carefully analyzing your unique situation can a professional attorney help you navigate the complex fields of law. If it does not look like your Judge will grant you a waiver for the interlock device, then an attorney may save you time and energy in a hopeless pursuit. If your situation does look good for an interlock waiver then an attorney can navigate the complex legal field and handle the entire process with minimal time and effort given on your part.
If you want to discuss my services in representing you before the judge to apply for a financial hardship waiver, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you a more in-depth questionnaire to determine if I may be of service. Due to the volume of inquiries into ignition interlock waivers, you must fill out this intake email for me to analyze your case first. Please do not call our office initially, as that actually slows the process down.