The ignition interlock device program is here to stay. If you need one or have been ordered to install one in your car, please learn as much as possible about the device. Importantly, talk to your DUI Defense Attorney about where to get one installed and some tips to avoid any trouble.
The ignition interlock device (IID, or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BIID)) is gaining popularity in governmental circles, court systems, and advocates against the crime of driving under the influence. The device is a breath test type apparatus that is connected to the vehicle's dashboard, or more correctly to its ignition mechanism. The instrument requires the driver to provide a breath sample before allowing the vehicle to start. If the breath sample renders a clean result (i.e. a blood alcohol concentration reading below the permitted amount (usually, 0.00, 0.02, or 0.04 per cent) the vehicle’s engine will start. Alternatively, if the driver provides a breath sample that is over the required amount then the vehicle will not turn over and the failed attempt will be reported to the governing agency.
While the vehicle is in motion (or the engine is turned on) the IID will randomly require the driver to provide another breath sample. The time between required breath samples is dependent on the calibration of the unit, however typically random breath samples are required every 10 to 20 minutes while the vehicle is in operation. The purpose behind the random breath sample is to prevent a driver from having a “sober” friend blow into the device starting the vehicle. If the requested breath sample is not provided or exceeds the required limit, the device will record the incident, warn the driver and then start up an alarm (e.g., lights flashing, horn honking, etc.) until the ignition is turned off, or a clean breath sample has been provided.
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A common, but inaccurate belief is that ignition interlock devices (IID) will turn off the vehicle’s engine if alcohol is detected. Due to the fact that this would then create an unsafe or dangerous driving situation that would expose interlock manufacturers to substantial liability, a vehicle’s engine does not turn off if a breath sample detects too much alcohol on a driver’s breath. It is physically impossible for an interlock device to turn off a running vehicle.
Most of the ignition interlock devices in use today use an ethanol-specific fuel cell for a sensor. This type of sensor is an electrochemical device where alcohol undergoes a chemical oxidation reaction on a catalytic electrode surface, typically made of platinum to generate an electric current. This current is then measured and converted to an alcohol equivalent reading. Fuel cell technology is not nearly as accurate or reliable as the infrared spectroscopy technology used in evidentiary breathalyzers. However, IIDs are obviously substantially cheaper and smaller and therefore more practical for more widespread use.
The devices keep a running record of the activity on the unit and this record, or log, is printed out or downloaded each time the device's sensors are calibrated, commonly at 30, 60, or 90-day intervals. In the DUI realm these records are provided to the courts for probation review and to the Department of Licensing in some instances. If the court still has jurisdiction and a violation is detected the court may require the driver to re-appear and possibly face addition sanctions.
As always, please give our office a call at either Mt. Vernon - Skagit County - or Bellingham - Whatcom County. DUI Attorneys at our office can help you navigate the very difficult world of the Washington ignition interlock device.
IGNITION INTERLOCK DRIVER'S LICENSE—APPLICATION—ELIGIBILITY—CANCELLATION—COSTS—RULES.
(1)(a) Any person licensed under this chapter or who has a valid driver's license from another state, who is convicted of: (i) A violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance, or (ii) a violation of RCW 46.61.520(1)(a) or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance, or (iii) a conviction for a violation of RCW 46.61.520(1) (b) or (c) if the conviction is the result of a charge that was originally filed as a violation of RCW 46.61.520(1)(a), or (iv) RCW 46.61.522(1)(b) or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance, or (v) RCW 46.61.522(1) (a) or (c) if the conviction is the result of a charge that was originally filed as a violation of RCW 46.61.522(1)(b) committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or (vi) who has had or will have his or her license suspended, revoked, or denied under RCW 46.20.3101, or who is otherwise permitted under subsection (8) of this section, may submit to the department an application for an ignition interlock driver's license. The department, upon receipt of the prescribed fee and upon determining that the petitioner is eligible to receive the license, may issue an ignition interlock driver's license.
(b) A person may apply for an ignition interlock driver's license anytime, including immediately after receiving the notices under RCW 46.20.308 or after his or her license is suspended, revoked, or denied.
(c) An applicant under this subsection shall provide proof to the satisfaction of the department that a functioning ignition interlock device has been installed on all vehicles operated by the person.
(i) The department shall require the person to maintain the device on all vehicles operated by the person and shall restrict the person to operating only vehicles equipped with the device, for the remainder of the period of suspension, revocation, or denial. Subject to the provisions of RCW 46.20.720(3)(b)(ii), the installation of an ignition interlock device is not necessary on vehicles owned, leased, or rented by a person's employer and on those vehicles whose care and/or maintenance is the temporary responsibility of the employer, and driven at the direction of a person's employer as a requirement of employment during working hours. The person must provide the department with a declaration pursuant to RCW9A.72.085 from his or her employer stating that the person's employment requires the person to operate a vehicle owned by the employer or other persons during working hours.
(ii) Subject to any periodic renewal requirements established by the department under this section and subject to any applicable compliance requirements under this chapter or other law, an ignition interlock driver's license granted upon a suspension or revocation under RCW 46.61.5055 or 46.20.3101 extends through the remaining portion of any concurrent or consecutive suspension or revocation that may be imposed as the result of administrative action and criminal conviction arising out of the same incident.
(iii) The time period during which the person is licensed under this section shall apply on a day-for-day basis toward satisfying the period of time the ignition interlock device restriction is required under RCW46.20.720, 46.61.5055, 10.05.140, 46.61.500(3), and 46.61.5249(4). Beginning with incidents occurring on or after September 1, 2011, when calculating the period of time for the restriction under RCW 46.20.720(2) or (3), the department must also give the person a day-for-day credit for the time period, beginning from the date of the incident, during which the person kept an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles the person operates. For the purposes of this subsection (1)(c)(iii), the term "all vehicles" does not include vehicles that would be subject to the employer exception under RCW 46.20.720(3).
(2) An applicant for an ignition interlock driver's license who qualifies under subsection (1) of this section is eligible to receive a license only if the applicant files satisfactory proof of financial responsibility under chapter 46.29 RCW.
(3) Upon receipt of evidence that a holder of an ignition interlock driver's license granted under this subsection no longer has a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles operated by the driver, the director shall give written notice by first-class mail to the driver that the ignition interlock driver's license shall be canceled. If at any time before the cancellation goes into effect the driver submits evidence that a functioning ignition interlock device has been installed on all vehicles operated by the driver, the cancellation shall be stayed. If the cancellation becomes effective, the driver may obtain, at no additional charge, a new ignition interlock driver's license upon submittal of evidence that a functioning ignition interlock device has been installed on all vehicles operated by the driver.
(4) A person aggrieved by the decision of the department on the application for an ignition interlock driver's license may request a hearing as provided by rule of the department.
(5) The director shall cancel an ignition interlock driver's license after receiving notice that the holder thereof has been convicted of operating a motor vehicle in violation of its restrictions, no longer meets the eligibility requirements, or has been convicted of or found to have committed a separate offense or any other act or omission that under this chapter would warrant suspension or revocation of a regular driver's license. The department must give notice of the cancellation as provided under RCW 46.20.245. A person whose ignition interlock driver's license has been canceled under this section may reapply for a new ignition interlock driver's license if he or she is otherwise qualified under this section and pays the fee required under RCW 46.20.380.
(6)(a) Unless costs are waived by the ignition interlock company or the person is indigent under RCW10.101.010, the applicant shall pay the cost of installing, removing, and leasing the ignition interlock device and shall pay an additional fee of twenty dollars per month. Payments shall be made directly to the ignition interlock company. The company shall remit the additional twenty dollar fee to the department.
(b) The department shall deposit the proceeds of the twenty dollar fee into the ignition interlock device revolving account. Expenditures from the account may be used only to administer and operate the ignition interlock device revolving account program. The department shall adopt rules to provide monetary assistance according to greatest need and when funds are available.
(7) The department shall adopt rules to implement ignition interlock licensing. The department shall consult with the administrative office of the courts, the state patrol, the Washington association of sheriffs and police chiefs, ignition interlock companies, and any other organization or entity the department deems appropriate.
(8)(a) Any person licensed under this chapter who is convicted of a violation of RCW 46.61.500 when the charge was originally filed as a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, or an equivalent local ordinance, may submit to the department an application for an ignition interlock driver's license under this section.
(b) A person who does not have any driver's license under this chapter, but who would otherwise be eligible under this section to apply for an ignition interlock license, may submit to the department an application for an ignition interlock license. The department may require the person to take any driver's licensing examination under this chapter and may require the person to also apply and qualify for a temporary restricted driver's license under RCW 46.20.391.
[2015 2nd sp.s. c 3 § 3; 2013 2nd sp.s. c 35 § 20; 2012 c 183 § 8; 2011 c 293 § 1; 2010 c 269 § 1; 2008 c 282 § 9.]
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