David Nico – CEO Lifesafer – Ignition Interlock

David Nico / Louis Goodman – Transcript
[00:00:00] Louis Goodman: Today we present a bonus episode. It’s designed to provide information about the ignition interlock device, the IID, to attorneys who represent clients charged with DUI. If you represent DUI clients, you know, the bureaucratic nightmare that they face in dealing with the Courts and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
My guest today, could be a valuable resource in assisting practitioners as we navigate the governmental hurdles that face our clients. I’m Louis Goodman. Welcome to the Love Thy Lawyer podcast and this special episode.
He is the founder of Interstate Interlock and Life Safer of Northern California. He has been involved with establishing ignition interlock programs in California.
Since the inception of the legislation in [00:01:00] 1993, he has over 25 years of experience dealing with ignition interlock technology. He has helped thousands of individuals to restore their driving privileges after convictions, for driving under the influence. On a personal note, he has helped many of my clients with insurance and DMV issues.
David Nico, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.
David Nico: And thank you, Louis. I appreciate the opportunity.
Louis Goodman: Well, I’m very happy to have you, as I said in the intro, you really have helped many of my clients, and it’s nice to be able to give a client your name and number and know that he’s going to be calling someone who knows what’s going on at DMV and in the world of ignition interlock and insurance.
David Nico:
Well, my company is more suited towards the ignition interlock. I can always refer them to a reputable insurance agent or somebody who deals with the insurance issues. But my focus really is [00:02:00] more the ignition interlock device and home monitoring units, alcohol monitoring, units of that sort.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. And I’d also point out that I’ve met you a number of times in person at MCLE presentations and dinners that have been given by the DUI Lawyers Associations. And you’ve been very helpful in making presentations there. So I appreciate your work in that regard.
David Nico: My pleasure. I’m always interested in people’s thoughts.
Louis Goodman:
Biography. Where are you from originally David?
David Nico: Originally, I was born in Lansing, Michigan. So I’m a Midwesterner.
Louis Goodman: Tell us a little bit about your educational background.
David Nico: I was in Michigan until the ripe old age of 14, and then business took my father down South to Florida and the whole family. I come from a very large family of 14 kids.
If you can imagine that.
Louis Goodman: Wow.
David Nico: Yeah, mom and dad were busy in the winter months. We moved to Florida [00:03:00] and I kinda grew up through my formative years in Florida and went to junior college to Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida. Then I transferred to University of Florida majored in Criminal Justice.
And after that, I moved out West to Nevada and I went to a small little private law school, Nevada School of Law. And I was there for three years. And in my third year, this is kind of how I fell into this industry. And my third year working for, I was clerking for an insurance defense firm. And in the process of that, we had a client, this is kind of a funny story.
I’ll try to make it short, but we had a client, he was an insurance broker and he had this company and it was based out of Monterey, California. And he owed fees to the firm. And the senior partner came to me and said, you know, I think we can acquire this company in lieu of fees. So you get to Monterey.
Louis Goodman:
[00:04:00] And what sort of work is this company doing?
David Nico: What we do typically what, right now, the corporate offices in Monterey, we have 25 locations throughout Central and Northern California. What we do is we determine with the assistance of DMV, what this individual’s license status is, and their eligibility with respect to getting their license back as quickly as possible.
And during the course of all this over the 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several Senators and Congressmen and helping craft legislation to this end. And as you know, the current law under SB 1046, that’s the current law what’s going on with the ignition interlock device. I kind of deviated that there a little bit, but that’s where it’s all culminated to.
Louis Goodman: Have you and your company been involved in drafting?
And I don’t know, promoting the legislation that has allowed this Ignition [00:05:00] Interlock Program.
David Nico: Yeah, absolutely.
Louis Goodman: Tell us a little bit about your history and your experience in working on that project.
David Nico: Well, the most recent one was with Senator Hill and that was first, there was, let me give a little background.
First, there was AB 91, which was the pilot program, which I’m sure your listeners are aware of. And that was the program we’re in for it was a pilot program. We’re in four counties, which was Alameda, Tulare, Sacramento and Los Angeles. The state mandated all individuals convicted of DUI to install the Ignition Interlock per prescribed period of time, depending on their offense, whether it be first, second or third and so on.
And in that process, they made that as a condition of license reinstatement. Well, that pilot program went on for five years and at the end of that, the DMV did a study and they tried to determine what the recidivism rate was, what the success rate was. With respect to those individuals, did they re-offend while on the Ignition Interlock Program.
And they found that [00:06:00] there was a very low recidivism rate. And out of that was born SB 1046. SB 1046 was intended to mirror the pilot program. But it was to eliminate suspension, what didn’t totally mirror it. And I’ll be happy to discuss those distinctions between AB 91 and SB 1046.
But it’s very, it’s really pretty simple. Under current law under SB 1046, there are certain individuals that are mandated to get the ID as a condition of license reinstatement. And that would be first offenders with injury. Second offenders, third offenders and so on. They’re all mandated to get the device.
There’s no way around it. There’s no waiting out the suspension period with first offenders, they left it open because the Governor wanted some options, some judicial discretion with respect to the first offender non-injury non accident and that their options are they’re threefold. They can wait out the six months suspension.
[00:07:00] And then at the end of that period, they can get fully licensed reinstated. They can install the Ignition Interlock device, avoid the 30 day hard suspension after the expiration of the DS 367 form that is given to them at the time of arrest, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, or they can get a to and from license at the time of conviction, which is a 12 month versus a six month to and from license to go to and from work, to and from, you know, the treatment programs, et cetera.
So those are the three options. So the real distinction, the point I’m trying to make the real distinction, the only one that is not mandated is that first offender non-injury non accident where he has three options. The good news is if that individual wants to avoid that 30 day hard, then if he installs the Ignition Interlock device, we can get around the 30 day hard.
Louis Goodman: Let me just ask you a question about that, David. Okay. Let’s say my client picks up a DUI today. He comes to see [00:08:00] me tomorrow. He still has 30 days on his license. He still has, you know, eight or nine days to call DMV to ask for a DMV hearing. Let’s assume that he asks for DMV hearing.
He gets a DMV hearing. They say its eight weeks out, six, eight weeks out. Okay. So is there any advantage to getting the Ignition Interlock installed right away? Or should he wait until DMV has taken action against the license?
David Nico: He should wait because as you know, Louis, if you’ve asked for that DMV hearing, it stays the suspension. So his license is as good as it was prior to the infraction. Okay. So there is no benefit to that client to get the ignition interlock device early. Now we’re talking about the first offender, garden variety, no injury done. Uh, no acts, right.
Louis Goodman: Okay. Now I have a follow-up on that then. Okay. Now let’s say DMV, after the six weeks goes by, [00:09:00] they hold a hearing. They say we’re taking your license. They send them a letter. It says two weeks from today, your license is going to be suspended, but his court date is not for another three months. So. He has an Admin Per Se suspension, but he does not have a court conviction.
What should he do under those circumstances?
David Nico: And that is the critical time. That time period, if let’s say the APS action, if he lost the APS action, they’re going to send them the letter as you indicated that he’s going to be suspended, that would be the time if he wants to not be suspended. That would be the time to install the device because by installing the device at that point prior to DMV taking that suspension action, we can stop the suspension and he can continue to drive legally with the device.
Louis Goodman: And once that Ignition Interlock device is on the [00:10:00] vehicle. Your company notifies DMV that it’s there.
David Nico: This is how that works. We’ll talk to the client. We will contact DMV for them. And this is one of the factors that distinguishes my company from others, but we will get ahold of DMV. We’ll find out exactly what roadblocks or requirements this individual has. Once the DMV gives us the green light as this individual’s eligible, he’s receiving the letter of suspension in this time period that we’re talking about. We will install it. We will give him a form. It’s called a DL 924.
Okay. And it’s a DMV form security form that they give to us to in turn, give to the client. And once we give that to the client, he goes to his local field office and he will turn that over, pay the appropriate fees. I think the fees add up to $125 for reinstatement fees that broken up, but I couldn’t give you that breakdown right off the top of my head, but that’s in essence, it amounts to $125 [00:11:00] and he’s good to go.
Louis Goodman: Does he need to also have an Sr 22 on file with them?
David Nico: Good point. Yes. And when we call DMV, we find out, does he have an Sr 22 on file at that point, if he doesn’t, we will advise the client that he needs to obtain that. Is he enrolled in the treatment program. Has the treatment program electronically notified the DMV that he is properly enrolled.
Once he makes that initial appointment with the treatment program, then they will send it’s called a DL 107 to the department via electronic transmission as do the insurance companies through the Sr 22, that’s all electronically done. Our form is different. They have to physically take that form to DMV..
Louis Goodman: So even pre conviction, the client can get enrolled in the DUI school, get his Sr 22 and get as ignition interlock going. Is that correct?
David Nico: That is correct. Let’s assume there is a conviction [00:12:00] three or four or five months down the line. Will they get credit for the time that they put in on these things?
David Nico: And this is that’s the critical question. And this is the real distinguishing factor Louis with respect to the first offender. Under this scenario under this example that you’ve given, unfortunately when they drive drafted SB 1046, that individual is not in the operative word is mandated. He’s not mandated.
Only those individuals who are mandated to get the ID, get pre conviction credit. In other words, as crazy as this sounds, if this individual would have gone out and killed somebody. Okay, then he becomes a mandated. I can get him pre conviction credit prior to his conviction because he didn’t do that. And he’s not deemed mandatory that that being the operative word, it is discretionary with the judge and his options.
He does not get that pre conviction credit. The only benefit to this [00:13:00] particular client that we’re talking about is that he avoids the 30 day hard now. As a result of that, his credit will start upon conviction. Okay. So in essence, this individual may be required to keep the ID a little longer because he wasn’t able to get to court prior to installation.
Does that make sense?
Louis Goodman: It makes sense, but does it makes no sense, but it makes sense. I mean, it makes sense within the context of the law in terms of what you’re saying. I mean it doesn’t make, you know, legislative sense, but okay.
David Nico: Let me just add one provisor to that. And Senator Hill saw the insanity in that.
Okay. And he drafted SB 545 and right before COVID rolled out, he had entered that new legislation to clean that process is getting cleaned up as we speak, but because of COVID, it’s gotten delayed, but there is a bill currently going, you know, in the [00:14:00] process, it hasn’t been enacted yet, but it’s going to clean up that process.
So the first offender does get that pre conviction credit. So in other words, if he didn’t get to corporate six months, he might be done with the ID, but we’re not there yet.
Louis Goodman: Is there anything that the judge can do in order to avoid more IID time than is necessary.
David Nico: I have seen this issue several times and I’ve worked with several attorneys on the short answer is no.
Louis Goodman: So what is your advice to someone. In a first offense situation in terms of getting ID, should they wait, or should they just go ahead and get it just with the understanding that they may need to keep it in longer because the DA hasn’t filed charges yet, or the court hasn’t gotten around to the case get, or the case is being litigated.
David Nico: What I advise and my staff advises clients, the question to the [00:15:00] client is, if you do not want to serve the 30 day hard and you want to continue to drive uninterrupted, then we would advise you to get the ID. If you’re okay with waiting out that 30 day hard, I would wait till you get to court and make a decision on what option you want.
Whether to sit out the six month suspension, whether to get the 12 month to and from, or get the aid for six months.
Louis Goodman: What is the effect? If at the time you go to court, Let’s say six months later and resolve the case. If the case is resolved to a wet reckless in that, let me ask you this, did that individual up to get the idea at that time?
David Nico:,
Yes. And they got an IID as soon as the APS suspension went into effect, and then they ultimately got a wet reckless disposition. Three or four months later than he, at that point, he could remove the device and he could go get his permanent license. Okay. Because there would be no suspension affiliates [00:16:00] are connected to the wet reckless.
Louis Goodman: All right, let me move on to a second offense DUI, again, no injuries, just a straight second offense DUI. How can that individual, assuming they’ve taken a blood or a breath test, be able to keep their driving privilege?
David Nico: Well, that individual different than the first example we gave. First of all, he’s mandated. So he has no options, but to comply if he wants to get his license reinstated. The good news is we can avoid the complete hard suspension. There will be zero hard suspension. If he installs the device obtained SR 22 and enrolls in the treatment program prior to his DS, 367 expired and he gets complete pre conviction credit.
So if your case doesn’t, isn’t heard for six months down the road, he will get complete credit for the six months he had the device and another second offense, it would be a one-year program. So he’s already knocked out six months in the program. By the [00:17:00] time he gets to court, he’s only has remaining six months to complete.
Louis Goodman: Does he need to be enrolled in the drinking driver program at the same time? Or can that wait until the conviction?
David Nico: Yeah, no, he must be enrolled in good standing with the Drinking Driving program because they will violate him to be, if he falls out, he has to maintain the SR 22 to maintain good standing with the treatment programs and maintain the all right.
Louis Goodman: And are you able to get an individual referred to a drinking driver program, because like now with COVID I understand most of these things are done online.
David Nico: Yes. The short answer is yes. You know through the 25 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve forged some pretty good relationships with various treatment programs that I’ve done presentations on this these issues under SB 1046.
So. I can make a phone call and talk to directors and the head counselors, and we can get folks directed into the right direction to get into the treatment programs. As you [00:18:00] know, Louis, there’s a huge wait to get into these programs because they’re doing everything via zoom, but. I’m fortunate enough to have these relationships and I’m able to cut out some of that time to get these folks in as quickly as possible.
And that will then get them driving again.
Louis Goodman: Is that a restricted license or is it unreal?
David Nico: Restricted. It’s only restricted in the sense that they must maintain the ID and the device in the car. They can drive anywhere they want anytime, not just to and from work. Of course, business, that kind of thing. They can do anything go anywhere they want.

Louis Goodman: All right. Now, what about a third offense? Is there any way to keep a driving privilege if you’ve picked up a third DUI within 10 years?
David Nico: Yes. The same rule applies that I just explained with respect to the second offender we can avoid the hard suspension completely provided.
He gets enrolled in the treatment program, obtains an SR 22 and installs the IID prior to the DS 367 expiration.
Louis goodman: Wow, [00:19:00] but again, and I just would give this caveat, and I’m really sensitive to this with clients. If an attorney has asked for a stay or asked for an APS hearing. I really am emphatic about not installing that device until that individual literally needs it.
In other words, it does him no good because his license is good during the stay.
David Nico: So I work with attorneys and they say, okay, we’re going on the hearing next week. Why don’t we start coordinating to get this guy set up? Because we don’t feel we’re going to win the hearing. So these are going to receive the letter.
So we try to do it in that time to minimize the time he’s on. Does that make sense prior to the suspension being enforced?
Louis Goodman: So if I have a client with a DUI two prior convictions, and I’ve asked for an APS hearing, I can have my client contact you and get immediately set up for ignition interlock and or referral to [00:20:00] an insurance company for Sr 22 and a referral to the drinking driver.
Programs so that those things can be in place, even though the APS hearing hasn’t been held yet.
David Nico: Exactly. And that’s kind of how I built my business mode, is we try to be, we try to guide the client through the entire process rather than just install a device and say good luck, because that does the last thing we want is an angry client who comes back to me and says, well, You know, I went to DMV with your form and they won’t give me my license, cause I’m not rolled in the program.
We really try to take the time and find out exactly what steps he has done or hasn’t done in order to ensure when he makes that trip to DMV. It’s not a wasted trip. And he walks out of there with his license and that’s really our business model and being a local company. And doing this locally, we’re able to provide that level of service.
And that’s, I’m very proud of that.
Louis Goodman: So there’s an advantage to being proactive on this before [00:21:00] the DMV and the court actually take action against the license. Assuming that you’re in a situation where as an attorney, you can look down the road and say, well, you know, I understand what the facts and circumstances of this case are.
And in my view, in all likelihood, despite my best efforts, I think that the APS hearing is not going to go in our favor.
David Nico: Exactly. And please note Louis, we try to coordinate that. I don’t want to get him in compliance too far ahead of the game. Do you know what I’m saying? I want to coordinate it with when you’re going to have that hearing.
And then maybe a week before, two weeks before the resolution of that hearing, if it’s going to go the other way, where you’re not going to win the hearing, then we get him all dialed in it. It does the client no good to install it two months prior to the hearing, because you have stayed the suspension, he still has his license.
We don’t want him to pay any more than he has to pay [00:22:00] until that time the need is there. Does that make sense?
Louis Goodman: Yes. Okay. Can you do anything for someone who has a refusal or a forced draw case?
David Nico: No. On refusals there’s nothing we can do. Sorry.
Louis Goodman: I mean that was kind of my sense of it, but I, okay.
I thought I’d ask the expert. Is there anything can you do about installing an ignition interlock on private vehicles that are used for commercial purposes?
David Nico: Okay. That’s a great question. So are you limitless if I understand the question correctly? So the individual uses his personal vehicle for work, or is it a company vehicle who was.
Which one is it?
Louis Goodman: Well, let’s just go down the line here. Okay. Let’s assume that I work in a construction industry. I have my own pickup truck that I use every day in the course and scope of my employment in the [00:23:00] construction industry. I pick up a DUI and I want to continue driving my truck for commercial purposes that I’m required to by my employer, even the like, own and maintain the truck.
David Nico:
Oh, he would just fall under your same situation. He can absolutely do that. He can install the device and drive as normal. He’s just going to have the ID to deal with.
Louis Goodman: Okay. What if same circumstance, except now the truck is owned by the company and the individual drives that truck as in the course and scope of his employment, but it’s a company owned vehicle.
David Nico:
Very simple. That individual, there’s an application and it’s in my presentation. I don’t know the form right off the top of my head, but simply put, he installs the device in his personal vehicle at home. Okay. [00:24:00] Then he gets an exemption for the company vehicle. Okay. If he is in a piece of sales or what have you, he gets this exemption. He fills it out. He notifies the employer that he has to have it in his personal vehicle. And he keeps up this form in the, in the glove box, showing that he has complied. And he’s fine to drive that company vehicle without the aid of the ID provided he maintains the ID for his personal vehicle. Does that answer to that?
Answer your question?
Louis Goodman: Yes. So the employer’s vehicle never has to have an IID on it just as long as the individual’s personal vehicle has an IID. The employer doesn’t need to put one on the employer’s vehicle.
David Nico: That’s exactly correct now. And condemn the employee can drive it with permission.
Louis Goodman: Absolutely. Now I’ve had several clients say, well you know, I just drive my employer’s vehicle. I don’t drive my vehicle.
David Nico: It’s a prerequisite to get that exemption. You have to have it on your personal vehicle.
[00:25:00] Louis Goodman: Okay. How about electric cars? Let’s say I have a Tesla.
David Nico: We do them all the time.
Louis Goodman: Okay. I’ve tried to ask you questions that cover what I think probably about 85% of the cases that we see now. Obviously there are more complicated cases involving injury. There’s cases involving death, there’s cases where there are other unusual circumstances. And I don’t think that for the purposes of this podcast, I really want to get into those things. But I do know that you deal with them and you know how to deal with them.
And in fact, I’m holding in my hand, a 44 page presentation that you have available on SB 1046. I’m wondering if we can put that information in the show notes for this podcast, so that if someone [00:26:00] wants to link to that, they can
David Nico: Absolutely please do. And I’ll provide it to in slide form as well as in a PDF, if you would like
Louis Goodman: Okay.
And we’ll make sure to get that into the show notes. If someone wants to get in touch with you so that they can ask you some questions or refer a client to you. What is the best way to do that?
David Nico: I have a direct number to my desk, which any client or an attorney can call me. It’s (831) 250-6017. And any of the attorneys who would like to get ahold of me personally, anytime night or day, they can call me on my personal cell.
I just asked that they don’t give that to the client.
Louis Goodman: Okay. What we will do is get that information in the show notes as well, so that it would be easy for anyone listening to this, to just go to the show notes and find your contact information. [00:27:00] What about a website? Is there a website that’s available?
David Nico: Yes. Lifesaver of Northern California.com.
Louis Goodman: Very well. We’ll make sure that that’s in the show notes.
David Nico: Louis, can I just interject with a couple of things that please will best assist attorneys in particular? Having done this so long, whether it be by virtue of doing it for so long, or I don’t know what the reason is, but I’ve forged very good relationships with DMV.
Yeah. And I know the clients are required to call like the mandatory action line. And I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but they can stay on the phone for three hours wait time. I really would. You know, I suggested and encouraged attorneys call me directly. Whether the client becomes my client or not, I will be happy to assist them.
I can get to the DMV within five minutes and find out exactly the status of what’s going on with their license, with the client’s license. And [00:28:00] I provide that as a service personally, and I would be happy to assist them doing that. And plus it’ll save their staff hours of time trying to find out through the public line, what’s going on with a particular client.
We do that. And we also, we don’t subcontract or work out sometimes.
Louis Goodman: An individual has a DUI also has some other outstanding DMV problems. They’ve got some failures to appear. They’ve got some outstanding traffic tickets. Those are the kinds of things that you can also assist with.
David Nico: Absolutely. We can ascertain that.
And if there is something that’s outstanding, but it falls under confidentiality, my connections with the DMV, they will explain that to me. And then they’ll advise me under this particular circumstance, you need to have the client call because we can’t divulge that confidential information, but nine times out of 10, there’s like, for example, if you get a client and he got ticket in another County and he never paid the fine and you’re not aware [00:29:00] of it. He didn’t divulge it to you. If there’s other outstanding matters along those lines, we can find out, we can advise the client. Listen, you’ve got to go down and clean this up before we can go forward with the program you’re trying to get into right now
Louis Goodman: . Is there anything else that we’ve missed here that you think is really important for attorneys who are dealing with DUI to know about?
David Nico: I think without beating a dead horse, but to reiterate, I would just encourage use me as a resource. I think I can save you and your clients a lot of time and money, especially with DMV issues because it gets so confusing. And my connections are with managers of DMV rather than the under lanes of work in the call center at DMV.
So I’m able to get a little more in detail answers, clarity for the attorneys. And that’s what I really pride myself in is being able to assist the attorneys directly and their staff.
Louis Goodman: Can you explain a little bit [00:30:00] about the fee structure and how that works with Lifesafer?
David Nico: Sure. With Lifesaver it’s very simple.
I found simple seems to work best. We’re the only company in the state that doesn’t subcontract. And the reason I’m bringing that up is because if you have subcontractors involved, you have to pay the subcontractors. They do nothing for free, and that’s where the installation becomes in. We don’t do that.
They’re my shops and my employees. There’s zero install fee. There’s zero setup fee with our company. There’s zero admin fees. We do not split fees. There’s no separate fee as for calibration and installation. It’s all in one it’s inclusive. It’s $75 a month. That covers everything. The DMV paperwork, the calibration, the leasing of the device, every aspect of the program.
There’s no hidden costs. That’s it?
Louis Goodman: David. Nico. Thank you so much for talking to me this afternoon. I’ve learned a lot from you. I also would reiterate that I have referred my clients to [00:31:00] you and you have been helpful to me. You have been helpful to my staff, and you’ve been helpful to my clients over the years.
And I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining me this afternoon on Love Thy Lawyer.
David Nico: Thank you so much, Louis. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I look forward to continuing to work with you and your staff. It’s been my pleasure.
Louis Goodman: That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information. Thanks as always to my guests who share their wisdom and to Joel Katz for music, Brian Matheson for tactical support and Tracey Harvey.
Louis Goodman: I’m Louis Goodman.
[00:32:00] David Nico: I would just encourage use me as a resource and I think I can save you and your clients a lot of time and money, especially with DMV issues because it gets so confusing.

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