The Ignition Interlock Driver’s License
Even if you have had your license suspended for a DUI conviction or a DUI arrest, it is possible to keep driving legally. Recognizing that many persons who have had their license suspended for DUIs keep driving while under the influence in violation of the law, the legislature took action in 2008 to try and solve that problem.
On January 1, 2009, a new law took effect providing for an “Ignition Interlock Driver’s License” for persons who have had their license suspended for a DUI conviction, conviction for Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence, or an administrative suspension from the Department of Licensing based on allegations of those crimes. To qualify, you must have had a Washington residential address on file with the Department of Licensing, and must have had at one time a driver’s license issued from Washington State.
If your DUI or Physical Control conviction was for a drug offense, the Ignition Interlock License is not available to you. Talk to a lawyer immediately if you are alleged to have been under the influence of a drug while driving or in physical control. A person whose license is suspended based on vehicular homicide or vehicular assault likewise cannot get an Ignition Interlock License (or if the driver has had such a conviction in the past seven years).
One must apply to the Department of Licensing to get an ignition interlock license, and successful application requires a) proof of installation on all vehicles you drive, b) proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 Insurance, typically), and c) a filled-out application and application fee of $100 (which may be waived in certain circumstances).
Briefly, an Ignition Interlock Device is to be installed on any vehicle you drive, including motorcycles and scooters. A driver must blow in the vehicle, and register a sufficiently low (or absent) blood alcohol content (BAC) in order for the vehicle to start. Periodically, a driver is required to pull off to the side of the road and blow into the device in order to keep the vehicle functioning. While there is an exception for employer-owned vehicles that can be applied for, if you drive a vehicle without an Ignition Interlock Device and are caught by police, your license can be revoked, you can be charged with a new gross misdemeanor, and if you are probation for a DUI, the sentencing judge is required by law to give you 30 days jail. Additionally, the Ignition Interlock Device records each “blow” into the machine, and a report is generated for every month. If you blow too high, or try to tamper with the device, the installer will notify the court, probation, and possibly the Department of Licensing.
In addition to what is discussed above, there are many situations where an Ignition Interlock License does not apply. The following are some examples:
• The Ignition Interlock License does not apply to Commercial Drivers’ Licenses. A lawyer can help you protect your CDL, but acting fast is crucial.
• Minor in Possession convictions
• Habitual Traffic Offenders (persons with three or more serious driving offenses within a five-year period, or persons with 20 or more driving infractions)
• People convicted of Reckless Driving. Reckless Driving carries with it an independent 30 day license suspension, for which an Occupational Restricted License may be available. Note: if your DUI was reduced to Reckless Driving, the court will order a 30 day (or more) license suspension, IN ADDITION to the administrative suspension for the DOL. These may or may not overlap.
If you get charged with a new driving offense while on an Ignition Interlock License, your license will be revoked. Also note that if you have been convicted of a DUI or Physical Control, a court is now required to order you to apply for an Ignition Interlock Device or similar alternative if you do not drive a vehicle.
While an Ignition Interlock License has many advantages (primarily, keeping you on the road legally), there are very good reasons why a person may not want to apply for the temporary license, which depend in part on the specifics of your arrest, your driving history, and your criminal history, if any.
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