For the past 20 years, licensed drivers in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, or anywhere else in Washington, have risked being required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their motor vehicles if caught driving under the influence of alcohol.
More recent changes to state law make the devices mandatory for anyone convicted of a DUI. The systems are also a possibility for some convicted of negligent or reckless driving.
IIDs make life complicated for those that are required to have them. They sometimes do not work as they should. The increase in violations that require their installation may be due to lobbying efforts by their manufacturers. Because of these complex issues, this post is the first in a series that will explain some of what you need to know about them.
Later posts will address more specific issues with the systems, ranging from how costly they are to if you can continue to drive for your job to the story of how they have become commonplace both for those that live around Seattle and those that live elsewhere in the state.
In the mean time, this post is about the first steps in installing an IID in your vehicle. It will explain under what circumstances you may be required to install one and the guidelines you will be under while it is installed.
An IID is an instrument that you must blow into before your vehicle will start. The device will not allow your car to start if your breath alcohol content (BAC) is .025 or higher. Each person responds to alcohol differently, but know that your BAC will depend on your gender, weight, how many drinks you have consumed, and over how long a period you have consumed them. If you have consumed alcoholic beverages and have a system installed in your vehicle, the best rule of thumb is to find another way to get where you want to go.
Washington now requires that anyone convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or convicted of physically controlling a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs must have an IID installed in their vehicle. In some circumstances, those convicted of reckless or negligent driving must also have one installed.
The length of time you must have the IID installed depends on your charge. Those convicted of reckless or negligent driving may be required to have their IID installed for 6 months. Those with DUI or physical control convictions must have one installed for at least a year. A second conviction requires a device in your vehicle for at least 5 years. A third requires at least 10. Please note that the court can require longer periods or can order you to have one installed as a pretrial condition of release.
If your normal driver's license becomes suspended and you want to drive you must obtain an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). To obtain an IIL you must install an IID in your vehicle. Those with a suspended license and an installed IID are able to apply for and possess an Ignition Interlock Driver License if they fill out the application and pay the application fee. The IIL will replace the suspended license. Again, to receive one, the IID must be installed, you must get proof—such as a Certificate of Insurance (SR-22)—of financial responsibility, and submit an application and fee.
After your requirement period is over, you may have the device removed once the state receives information from your installer that you have not in the past 4 months:
- Tried to start the vehicle with a BAC of .04 or more
- Failed to take or pass any required
- Failed to get scheduled maintenance, repairs, calibration, monitoring, inspection, or replacement of the device
This is just a primer for the basics of how IIDs work in and around the Seattle area. Check back to this blog soon to find information about other details regarding them that may be relevant to you.