North Carolina DWI Interlock Devices, Smart Start and Monitech

If someone registers a .15 or above on a chemical analysis – Intox EC/IR II or blood analysis – and the .15 is not otherwise suppressed at a NC DWI hearing, the State of North Carolina requires that the person have an Interlock device installed in his or her car for at least one year before ever receiving a valid Driver License.

Until recently, Monitech was the only company licensed by the NC Department of Motor Vehicles to install these devices in vehicles. What’s more, Monitech was not authorized to install Interlock devices in other states – only North Carolina.

Smart Start, a company based in Texas and authorized to install devices in North Carolina and in more than 40 other states, has now set up in North Carolina and is offering special deal for people who may need to have an Interlock device int the car.

The first month is free, installation (normally $99) is free), and the monthly lease is $72 for the basic interlock. Prices do not include applicable local, state, or federal taaxes. In other words, the total out of pocket at the time of installation is $72 plus tax.

This is a significant savings. (I should note that I have no business or financial relationship with Smart Start, or with Monitech.)

A Smart Start representative came to my office today to speak with me about how they can better serve my clients. I offered advice, and the representative appeared be receptive. This is also a huge improvement over Monitech, since I had heard complaints in the past about difficult clients had experienced in scheduling appointments with Monitech.

An interlock device is an embarrassing addition to your car. So anything that makes the process less burdensome, less difficult, and less expensive, is great.

Other features of the SmartStart Interlock device include:

  1. Fuel cell that is specific to alcohol (to reduce or eliminate the risk of false positives)
  2. Compatible with all vehicle makes and models
  3. Remote unlock capability
  4. Optional camera with “night vision” to protect you against false positives generated by other individuals.
  5. Optional cellular feature to allow daily downloads of data (and reduce the requirement that you come into a Smart Start location for maintenance)>
  6. Optional GPS feature

A few words about the Interlock law. If you register the .15 or above:

  1. you will face a 45 day period upon conviction where you may not drive at all.
  2. you will be able to get a Limited Driving Privilege the conclusion of 45 days only if you have an Interlock device in your car.
  3. the limited driving privilege will only allow you to drive to and from work. You may not drive for household related purpose.

Here’s a SmartStart brochure that better explains features and costs.

SmartStart can be contacted at 1-800-880-3394 to schedule an installation.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.