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Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program

This page gives legal information only, not legal advice.

Q - What is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program?

The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program (the 'Program') is for drivers who are:

  • prohibited from driving because they have been convicted of an alcohol related driving offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, or
  • required by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to participate in the Program.

The Program may allow you to drive with a conditional 'interlock' driver's license for part of the time that your license is revoked and you are subject to a prohibition order.

To participate in the Program you must:

  • apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and be accepted into the Program. Acceptance is not automatic, and there are fees for being in the Program
  • have an interlock ignition device installed in your vehicle
  • go to Addiction Services for rehabilitation, counselling and education. This includes the 'Driving While Impaired' education program, a risk assessment, evaluation for alcohol or drug use, and counselling sessions
  • meet all other Program eligibility requirements and conditions
  • otherwise be eligible for a driver's license.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles runs the Program. Addiction Services - www.addictionservices.ns.ca, operated by the various Health Authorities, provide mandatory counselling services.

Q - What factors are looked at to decide whether I will be accepted into the Program?

If you are eligible for and apply to participate in the Program, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will look at the following factors in deciding whether you will be accepted:

  • your driving history, especially alcohol-related incidents, whether or not you were convicted under the Criminal Code
  • any information about you provided by Addiction Services
  • any information about your participation in an alcohol rehabilitation program
  • any medical or other information relevant to your ability to drive and be in the Program.

Q - What is an alcohol interlock ignition device?

An interlock device is an alcohol breath-screening device installed in your vehicle's ignition system. You blow into the device, which measures blood alcohol levels. The vehicle will not start if your blood-alcohol reading is above .02 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Information recorded on the interlock device must be downloaded every 60 days, and is used in deciding whether the person should stay in the Program.

Q - Is the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program mandatory?

The Program is:

  • optional for first-time impaired drivers who are assessed by Addiction Services as low- or medium-risk to re-offend
  • mandatory for drivers who want to get their license back and are:
    • repeat and high-risk impaired drivers*
    • convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm or death
    • required to participate by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

*Repeat offenders who have 4 or more impaired driving convictions in a ten year period, and whose license is permanently revoked as a result, are not eligible for the Program.

Q - When am I eligible to get an interlock license?

If you have been issued a prohibition order under the Criminal Code, you must wait the following time period before you can get a license:

  • 3 months from the date of sentencing for a 1st offence;
  • 6 months for a 2nd offence; and
  • 12 months for any subsequent offence. 

However, you can start the application process and required Alcohol Assessment before this time elapses.

*A person convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm or death is not eligible for early reinstatement, but must participate in the Program at the end of their revocation period to get their license restored.

Q - How long will I have to be in the Program?

The minimum length of time you must be in the Program depends on the number of alcohol-related convictions you have had. You will find a list of the minimum periods in the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program User's Handbook (a Nova Scotia government publication), which is online at www.interlock.gov.ns.ca, or call (902) 424-5851 or 1 800 898-7668.

You must apply to be released from the Program and the Registrar can extend the minimum period. In determining whether to allow someone to exit the program, the Registrar will consider:

  • results of reports from the interlock service provider
  • how often the vehicle was operated by the driver
  • any incidents or reports of alcohol-related driving
  • any other information or factor the Registrar considers relevant.

Q - Can I be dismissed from the Program after I'm accepted?

Yes. The Registrar of Motor Vehicles may dismiss a person from the Program at any time for any reason.
If you are dismissed:

  • You must be notified in writing, by registered mail.
  • Your interlock license is automatically revoked.
  • You must wait at least 90 days before you can re-apply to be accepted back into the Program.
  • Time already spent in the Program will not count, and you will have to restart your minimum time period if you are accepted back into the Program.

Q - How much does the Program cost?

Participants pay about $1700 to $2000 to the service provider for their first year in the program. This does not include other costs associated with alcohol-related convictions, such as legal fees, court fines, increased insurance premiums. In addition, participants will incur the following fees:

  • $36.25 interlock application fee
  • $114.33 license re-instatement fee
  • $417.52 Addiction Services fee for Alcohol Rehabilitation Program

Q - What are some of the offences under the ignition interlock program rules?

It is an offence to:

  • Tamper with an ignition interlock device, or drive a vehicle in which the device has been tampered with
  • Not have your interlock device inspected at least once every 60 days.
  • Ask someone else to give a breath sample so you can start the vehicle or keep it moving.
  • Help someone who has an interlock license start their vehicle or keep it moving by blowing into the interlock device for them.
  • Allowing a person who holds an interlock license to operate a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device.

Penalties for these offences start at $685.21 (passenger vehicle) or $1,835.21 (commercial vehicle) for a first offence.

Q - Where can I get more information?

For more information about the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program call (902) 424-5851 or 1 800 898-7668, or visit www.interlock.gov.ns.ca. You can download the form for applying to the Program, and the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program User's Handbook, at www.interlock.gov.ns.ca.

For information about Addiction Services, including the 'Driving While Impaired' education program, go to www.addictionservices.ns.ca, or call your local Addiction Services office, listed under Health Promotion and Protection in the government blue pages of the telephone book.

August 2011

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