Can a California Court Require You To Install An Ignition Interlock Device If You’re Going to Prison?

Under section 23575 of the Vehicle Code, a judge can require somebody convicted of a first California DUI to install a working, certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that person operates, and stop that person from driving except where a functioning certified ignition interlock device has been installed.

A recent California appellate decision arose when the defendant ran a stop sign while extremely intoxicated and traveling at high speeds, and crashed into another vehicle causing the other car to roll over several times. The collision caused the other driver injuries. Two hours after this collision, her BAC was .259.

She pled no contest to several DUI crimes, including a DUI causing injury and driving with a BAC .08 or higher causing injury. She also admitted two prior convictions for DUIs within 10 years, and admitted allegations related to enhancement. The lower court declined to impose the probation department’s recommendation she get probation. She was sentenced to three years in state prison on the first count, and the court stayed a two year sentence on count 2 under Penal Code section 654. Penal Code section 654 prohibits two or more punishments for the same crime.

On appeal, defendant claimed the lower court improperly imposed several probation conditions, and argued they were unauthorized because she was committed to prison. The prosecutors conceded there was no authority for those conditions to be imposed after she was sentenced to state prison.

There were 25 probation conditions listed in the pre-sentence probation report. The court had rejected the recommendation for probation, but sentenced the defendant for a certain 3-year term. Even so, it imposed conditions listed in the report. Once of these conditions was that she install and maintain an ignition interlock device on her car under section 23575 of the Vehicle Code. This had to be installed within 30 days of sentencing or release from custody, whichever happened first. It had to be installed in every motor vehicle she owned and operated, except as set forth under section 23248 of the Vehicle Code.

The appellate court explained that usually once an adult is committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to serve prison time, the court doesn’t retain supervisory power over probation conditions and rehabilitation. Instead, responsibilities related to release after conviction of a felony are placed in the Board of Parole Hearings. A lower court can issue a no-contact order if a defendant is sentenced to prison, but it can only do that under restricted circumstances.

In this case, the defendant was certainly sentenced to prison not probation. Accordingly, by imposing probation conditions for the defendant’s parole after prison, it had gone over the scope of its sentencing authority. These conditions were for the Board of Parole Hearings to determine. The appellate court struck the conditions, including the condition related to the ignition interlock device.

The judgement was otherwise affirmed.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in San Diego, the potential penalties could include going to prison or installing an ignition interlock device. You should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can mount a strong defense. The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman may be able to help. Call us for a free consultation at (619) 260-1122 or susan@shartmanlaw.com.