Ignition Interlock Alternatives – Worth It?

There are two ways that an ignition interlock device might become a part of your life after a DUI arrest. First, if you are arrested for DUI and your license is administratively suspended, you will have a license suspension of at least 90 days. (Keep in mind that you can fight the suspension by timely sending in your Request for a Hearing). If the administrative license suspension occurs, you cannot drive during the suspension unless you are granted an Ignition Interlock License by the DOL. This will, of course, require that you install an ignition interlock device in your car.

If you are convicted of DUI, a license suspension separate from the administrative suspension is imposed. You may drive during this suspension if you are granted an Ignition Interlock License from the DOL. Upon reinstatement, DOL will require you in addition to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for at least one year.

But what if you had a DUI conviction and simply did not want to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle because you intended to “sit out” the ignition interlock requirement? This route  may actually result in more hardship than the ignition interlock.  Here is what the law provides:

RCW 46.61.5055 (Relevant part excerpted below)

     (5)(a) The court shall require any person convicted of an alcohol-related violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 to apply for an ignition interlock driver’s license from the department under RCW 46.20.385 and to have a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all motor vehicles operated by the person.

     (b) The installation of an ignition interlock device is not necessary on vehicles owned by a person’s employer and driven as a requirement of employment during working hours. The person must provide the department with a declaration pursuant to RCW 9A.72.085 from his or her employer stating that the person’s employment requires the person to operate a vehicle owned by the employer during working hours.

     (c) An ignition interlock device imposed under this section shall be calibrated to prevent a motor vehicle from being started when the breath sample provided has an alcohol concentration of 0.025 or more.

     (d) The court may waive the requirement that a person obtain an ignition interlock driver’s license and operate only vehicles equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device if the court makes a specific finding in writing that the devices are not reasonably available in the local area, that the person does not operate a vehicle, or the person is not eligible to receive an ignition interlock driver’s license under RCW 46.20.385.

     (e) When the requirement that a person obtain an ignition interlock driver’s license and operate only vehicles equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device is waived by the court, the court shall order the person to submit to alcohol monitoring through an alcohol detection breathalyzer device, transdermal sensor device, or other technology designed to detect alcohol in a person’s system. The person shall pay for the cost of the monitoring. The county or municipality where the penalty is being imposed shall determine the cost.

From this we learn that the court MUST order the defendant to apply for an ignition iterlock license, but that this requirement can be waived if the device is not available. However, if the requirement is waived, the court must order an alternative method of alcohol monitoring – either “through an alcohol detection breathalyzer device, transdermal sensor device, or other technology designed to detect alcohol in a person’s system.”

Given all the complexity written into Washington State’s DUI laws, if you are facing a DUI charge,it is wise to retain an experienced Seattle/Bellevue DUI attorney.
If you or a friend have been arrested for DUI, contact the Seattle and Bellevue DUI lawyer Jon Scott Fox at (425) 395-4384 or (425) 395-4DUI.

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