By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
One of the biggest changes to DWI practice I’ve seen over the past decade is the increasing frequency an Interlock Ignition Device is ordered on someone’s car. It can also be a headache getting it off the car when the time is over (it is also known as “Deep Lung Device” or “DLD” for short). If you’re not familiar — it is the device you must blow into to start your car when battling a DWI arrest or probation.
One of my biggest challenges as an advocate for my clients is to show the prosecutors and judges I work with the DLD is an affront to a person’s dignity more than anything. Should the punishment for DWI arrests be public humiliation of my client every time they start their car in front of their loved ones, kids or neighbors? I’d imagine when someone blows in to the device — it must feel like every eyeball on the planet is on them. The battle over the deep lung devices is truly at the intersection of individual freedom and public safety. It says a lot about us where we draw the line.
When a DLD is Required – And Why They’re All the Rage
Several factors are converging to make the devices popular. First is legislature who score automatic good-guy points every time they “get tough on DWI.” They require the DLD in many instances including (1) when you’re on bond for DWI 2nd or higher; (2) when you are convicted of DWI over 0.15 or DWI 2nd for at least 1/2 of the probationary period; or (3) when you apply for an occupational driver’s license (“ODL”) due to a DWI related suspension.
Another factor is Judges tighten the grips even more. Judges have discretion in setting terms and conditions of bond to put an interlock device on a car. In Collin County, most will Order the DLD in certain circumstances regardless if it’s a 1st arrest. Those include where there was a car accident, where there was a blood alcohol concentration over 0.15, or where the driver was a minor.
The final factor I am told time and again by many who work at the Courthouse (such as probation officers, prosecutors, and even court staff) is they say they will get fired if they allow someone to remove the device and that person causes a DWI accident with victim fatalities. Thankfully I haven’t seen this happen and hopefully I never will. I still do my best to assure whomever I deal with that even if there were a DWI accident, I’ve also not seen someone fired (or lose an election) for a specific decision they made related to one particular case. I also point out to them they are allowing unreasonable fear to effect their better judgment — and that if no one in the courthouse has the courage to order (or suggest) these things be removed we should just have a policy to have the DLDs on cars 100% of the time in all DWI cases.
Getting the DLD Off Your Car
For all practical purposes, you need an Order getting it off your car.
Device providers often see themselves as surrogate probation officers or Court Bailiffs. They won’t take the interlock ignition devices off your car without a Court Order. I’ve never seen any law or rule which allows them to do this and I suspect they make money by requiring you to take the 2 or 3 weeks to get an Order to remove the device from your car. I’m sure it’s not bad for the bottom line in aggregate. Anyways, the companies are getting more savvy because I’ve recently seen clauses in their contracts which require Court Orders for removal. So there it is.
When Are You Eligible for DLD Removal?
If you have a DLD on your car as a condition of bond then you are eligible once the case is over… though often it stays on for other reasons (see below). If you are acquitted, then it comes off immediately (with a Court Order, of course).
If you have a DLD as a term of probation then you can ask the Judge to remove it at any time unless it is a DWI over 0.15 or a DWI 2nd or higher… in which case you must have it for at least 50% of probation. Then you can ask for its removal.
If you have the deep lung device as a term of an occupational driver’s license then it remains until the ODL expires. New legislative changes actually loosen restrictions on where you can drive with an ODL so long as you have a DLD.
How Do I Get a DLD Removed?
Give us a call.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice in any situation you should contact an attorney directly. Communications through this forum are not privileged or confidential.