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Washington State Ignition Interlock Device

Washington State Ignition Interlock DeviceWashington State Ignition Interlock Laws.  Washington State ignition interlock laws mandate judges to require DUI offenders to 1) apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license (IIDL) and 2) to operate only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device (there are exceptions for employer vehicles). The ignition interlock driver’s license allows certain persons to drive while their license is suspended or revoked because of a DUI or Physical Control conviction or DOL administrative action.

What is an ignition interlock device (IID)?
 An ignition interlock 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.

What is an ignition interlock driver’s license (IIDL)?
  An ignition interlock driver’s license is a temporary license that allows certain people to legally drive while their license is suspended or revoked. 

Who is eligible for an ignition interlock driver’s license (IIDL)?
This depends upon when the person applies:
Until December 31, 2010, a person is eligible if:

  • He or she has had a valid driver’s license; and
  • Has a Washington State residential address; and
  • Is suspended or revoked for an alcohol-related DUI or Physical Control (not available for those suspended or revoked as an habitual traffic offender, for a reckless driving conviction reduced from a DUI, a minor in possession, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, or for persons who have been convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide within seven years).

Beginning January 1, 2011, you are eligible for an ignition interlock driver’s license if:

  • Your license has been suspended or revoked for a DUI or Physical Control (whether alcohol or drug-related in Washington or out-of-state); and
  • You reside in Washington State; and
  • You have had a driver’s license in your lifetime;
  • You are not suspended or revoked as a habitual traffic offender, for a reckless driving reduced from a DUI, for an MIP, or for child-support non-compliance.

Beginning September 1, 2011, you are eligible for an ignition interlock driver’s license if:

  • Your license has been suspended or revoked for a DUI or Physical Control (whether alcohol or drug-related in Washington or out-of-state) or Negligent Driving in the First Degree or Reckless Driving originally filed as a DUI or Physical Control if you have prior DUIs or similar convictions or Reckless Driving originally filed as Vehicular Homicide while under the influence;
  • You reside in Washington State; and
  • You have had a driver’s license in your lifetime;
  • You are not suspended or revoked as a habitual traffic offender, for a reckless driving reduced from a DUI, for an MIP, or for child-support non-compliance.

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.
How long do I have to have an ignition interlock device? It depends on whether you have the device because you have an ignition interlock driver’s license or you have the device because of a court order:

  • If you have the device because you applied for an ignition interlock driver’s license due to a suspension or revocation by DOL, you will need it for the length of your suspension or revocation. If this was your first administrative suspension or revocation by DOL for DUI or Physical Control in seven years, it is 90 days if you took the test, and 1 year if you refused the test. If this was your second (or more) offense within seven years, you will need it for two years.
  • If you have the device because the court imposed it when you were sentenced for DUI or Physical Control, you will need it for a year if this is your first court-ordered ignition interlock, five years if it is your second, and ten years if it is your third or more.
  • If you have the device because you are on a deferred prosecution, the length depends on the law in effect on the date the court granted the deferred prosecution.  Contact your attorney or DOL.
  • If you were required by the judge at your arraignment to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you drive while your DUI or Physical Control case is pending, then you need to keep the device installed until the court allows you to have it removed.

Do I need an ignition interlock on my employer’s vehicle that I drive at work? No, you do not need to have an ignition interlock installed on your employer’s vehicles to drive them 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. Beginning in January of 2011, this work-vehicle exception applies to vehicles that are not owned or leased by your employer, but are in your employer’s temporary possession, such as those being repaired, maintained, driven or parked, so long as you drive them at your employer’s direction as part of your employment during work hours.

What if I do not own a vehicle or drive?

  • For convictions from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010, if the conviction is alcohol-related, the judge must order you to 1) apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license and 2) to have a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles you operate (exception possible for work vehicles). The court can waive these requirements if the devices are not reasonably available in your local area, if you are not eligible for an ignition interlock driver’s license, or if you do not operate a motor vehicle. When the court waives both requirements (IIDL and IID), the court must require you to wear an ankle cuff that monitors your skin to detect alcohol consumption 24 hours a day for as long as you would have had to have the ignition interlock device installed on a vehicle. These devices are intrusive, expensive, may cause allergic responses and interfere with personal hygiene routines, and have been known to falsely report alcohol detection.   
  • Beginning January 1, 2011, a person convicted of DUI or Physical Control (alcohol and/or drug-related) must be ordered to apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license and to have an ignition interlock device functioning on any motor vehicle they drive. The court can waive the requirement that a person apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license if the person lives out-of-state and ignition interlocks are not reasonably available in the person’s local area; the person does not operate a motor vehicle; or is not eligible for an IIDL. If the court waives the requirement of applying for an ignition interlock driver’s license, the person does not have to submit to alcohol monitoring (ankle cuff) if he or she is not also required to abstain from drinking alcohol. The court cannot waive the requirement that the person have a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all motor vehicles the person operates.

How can I avoid having to get an ignition interlock device? 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, or 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 a Washington State Ignition Interlock Device requirement. At Callahan Law, 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.


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