An ignition interlock (IID) is a device that is attached to a vehicle's ignition, which a person must blow into to start the engine. If the device detects alcohol on the person's breath, the engine will not start. The device also prompts the driver to blow into it at random intervals while the car is running. If the person's breath alcohol concentration is 0.025 or higher, the vehicle will not start, or if already running, will sound the horn or alarm. The device has a chip that records failed tests and tampering. The record of these events may be forwarded to the court, probation or DOL, resulting in a probation violation or other serious consequences.
Washington law mandates judges to require convicted DUI offenders to comply with the ignition interlock restriction imposed by Department of Licensing (DOL). This restriction is not negotiable; those who drive without the device are committing a new crime. There is no alternative to having the device, even for people who have lung disease or other medical / physical conditions that prevent them from giving an adequate breath sample. The length of the IID restriction is 1 year for DUI offenders who have not previously been under an IID restriction. Offenders who have previously been restricted must have the device for 5 or 10 years, depending on the number of times they were previously restricted.
If a person is convicted of DUI in another state, DOL will impose the IID restriction if they had a Washington license at the time of the DUI in the other state. There are national databases accessible to driver's licensing agencies, which is how DOL can find out about an out-of-state conviction.
At the person's first court hearing on a new DUI charge, the judge may order that the person not drive without a functioning IID while their DUI case is pending. This is mandated by law if the person previously has been convicted of DUI, or of a lesser charge that was originally a DUI. The court must impose it even if the prior offense occurred decades ago.
Even when the law does not mandate the device be imposed at the first hearing, the judge has the option to impose the IID restriction. Many judges in Washington DUI cases order people being arraigned for DUI not to drive without an IID when the person has a breath test of 0.15 of higher, if an accident occurred in connection with the DUI, or if the judge otherwise has concerns that the person will continue to drink and drive while their court case is pending. In some counties, the judge will allow the person to file a statement under oath that they promise not to drive, in lieu of having the discretionary IID installed.
When a person's license is suspended or revoked due to a DUI arrest or conviction, they have the option of applying for a temporary restricted license, called the "ignition interlock license" or IIL. To be eligible, they must have the IID installed, obtain SR22 insurance, and submit an application with $100 to the department of licensing (DOL). The IIL is only effective until the last day of the suspension or revocation of the person's license, and the person must take the steps necessary to reinstate their license after the IIL expires in order to drive legally. If you have a commercial driver's license, you may be eligible for an ignition interlock driver's license, but only for driving a non-commercial vehicle. There is no ignition interlock driver's license for driving a commercial vehicle.
It depends on whether you have the device because you have an ignition interlock license (IIL) or you have the device because of a court order:
There is an exception for vehicles driven for work, if you submit to DOL the paperwork they require, signed by your employer, stating that you are driving the employer's vehicle only for work purposes during working hours, and not solely for driving to and from work. However, there is a waiting period before the exception begins. This waiting period is a specific number of days from the date your suspension or revocation began, or date the IID was installed, whichever is later:
If the department of licensing imposed the IID restriction pursuant to a conviction, there is no exception to the requirement. Until DOL receives proof an IID was installed and furthermore, that the IID did not detect a violation in the last 4 months of the restricted period, they will not reinstate the person's driver's license. All 50 states have access to a national registry, so moving to another state may not be an effective strategy for avoiding an IID restriction.
Your best shot at avoiding the ignition interlock device requirement is to get your DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving, reckless endangerment, negligent driving, to have the DUI dismissed, or to win a not guilty verdict at trial. For all of these, you need a DUI lawyer with the skill, knowledge, and talent it takes to get that kind of a result, because the public, the courts, and prosecutors do not take driving under the influence cases lightly.
We can help! Do not get saddled with an ignition interlock device requirement. At Callahan Law, P.S., Inc., we know how humiliating, expensive, and difficult an ignition interlock requirement can be for you. We have successfully avoided ignition interlock devices for most of our clients and we want to do that for you too.
Call us for a free consultation now: (253) 252-5841.