Ignition Interlock Licenses and Ignition Interlock Devices, June 2012

Ignition Interlock Devices and Ignition Interlock Licenses

June 2012

By Patricia Fulton

Ignition Interlock Devices

Enacted in 1987 and titled “Ignition Interlock Breath Alcohol Devices”, HB 663 was the Washington State Legislature's first foray into encouraging judges to impose ignition interlock device requirements on drivers accused of impaired driving related offenses.  Among other things, HB 663 defined the term “ignition interlock device” and created RCW 46.20.720 which officially gave judges the discretion order any driver convicted of DUI to not drive without a functioning ignition interlock device.[1]

Since 1987, the legislature has gradually expanded the circumstances in which a court or the DOL must require a driver use an ignition interlock device.  Currently, any driver convicted of DUI or physical control is required to use a functioning ignition interlock device on any vehicle they operate for a period of time after reinstatement of their license and the court must order compliance with this requirement as a condition of sentence.[2] The length of this IID requirement varies based on a driver's history of any previous IID restrictions.[3] Specifically, the lengths are as follows:

  • A one year IID restriction for any driver who has never previously been restricted.[4]
  • A five year IID restriction for any driver who has had a prior IID restriction under RCW 46.20.720(3)(a) at any point in their lifetime.[5]
  • A ten year IID restriction for any driver who has previously been restricted under RCW 46.20.720(3)(b) for five years at any point in their lifetime.[6]

A driver will be given day for day credit toward the above listed periods of IID restriction for any period of time during which they had the IID installed and an ignition interlock license.[7] For incidents occurring on or after September 1, 2011 the DOL will also give day for day credit toward any IID restriction under RCW 46.20.720(3) for any period of voluntary IID installation or IID installation as a condition of pre-trial release.[8]

A restriction under RCW 46.20.720(3) shall remain in effect until the DOL determines that a driver has complied with the IID restriction for the four consecutive months prior to release.[9] This compliance is determined with a declaration from an IID provider establishing that the driver had none of the following incidents during the four months prior to his or her release date:

  • An attempt to start the vehicle with a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more[10];
  • Failure to take or pass any required retests;[11] or
  • Failure to appear at the IID vendor when required for maintenance, repair, calibration, monitoring, inspection, or replacement of the device.[12]

A driver with an IID restriction must have the device installed in any vehicle they operate.  However, a limited exception exists for work related vehicles.[13] Effective January 1, 2011, a driver with an IID restriction may drive a vehicle owned, leased, or rented by their employer, or those vehicles whose care or maintenance is the temporary responsibility of their employer, and driven at the employer's direction as a requirement of employment during working hours.[14] This exception was slightly narrowed in 2012 by HB 2443 and does not apply if the employer's vehicle is assigned exclusively to the restricted driver and use solely for commuting to and from work.[15]

In addition to drivers convicted of DUI or physical control, a driver convicted of reckless driving or negligent driving first degree may also face an IID restrictions.  Effective September 1, 2011 a driver with a prior within seven years as defined by RCW 46.61.5055(14) who is convicted of either reckless driving when reduced from a DUI or physical control charge or negligent driving in the first degree to have a functioning ignition interlock device for a period of six months.[16]

Generally, a driver with an IID restriction must pay all the fees associated with the IID device.   Historically, there was no financial help available for indigent drivers with an IID restriction under RCW 46.20.720.  Effective August 1, 2012, non-indigent drivers are required to pay an additional twenty dollars per month directly to the IID vendor to be deposited into the DOLs IID revolving account.[17] An indigent driver may apply to the DOL for exception from this twenty dollar fee and for monetary assistance in covering the costs of installing, removing and leasing an IID device and any applicable licensing fees.[18]

In addition to convictions, a driver who enters a deferred prosecution program under RCW 10.05 for a DUI or physical control charge will be required to install an IID.[19] The required IID restriction will be for the same time periods as a conviction as outlined above.[20] Due to a legislative oversight, prior to January 1, 2011 it was not a crime to drive a motor vehicle without a functioning IID while on a deferred prosecution even if an IID was required as a condition of the deferred prosecution.  This oversight was fixed in the 2010 legislative session and now a driver operating a motor vehicle without a functioning IID while on a deferred prosecution would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.[21] Additionally, the DOL now has the authority to suspend a license if the driver is on a deferred prosecution and does not comply with the IID requirement.[22]

Ignition Interlock Licenses

Starting in 2008 with HB 3254, the Washington State Legislature created a new kind of temporary restricted driver's license called an Ignition Interlock License (IIL).  The creation of the IIL has had significant benefits for Washington drivers by allowing people arrested for impaired driving related offenses to continue to legally drive.  The IIL program is politically popular as it increases public safety by preventing people from operating motor vehicle after drinking.   Special appreciation should go to Seattle lawyer Geoff Burg for his work with the legislature on HB 3254.

Since HB 3254 in 2008, the legislature has made regular changes to the IIL laws, most of which have functioned to increase IIL eligibility and incentives for IID installation.[23] The most recent changes occurred during the 2011-2012 legislative session with HB 2443, effective August 1, 2012.

The creation of the IIL dramatically changed the consequences of a DUI or impaired driving related arrest for Washington drivers.   With no statutory waiting periods, no preclusion based on refusal or breath test level, and eligibility for all drivers regardless of criminal history, virtually any driver arrested for an impaired driving related offense can continue to legally drive regardless of the outcome of their case. [24] Initially limited to drivers accused of alcohol related cases only, the IIL laws were extended in 2010 by HB 2742 to allow a driver accused of a drug related impaired driving offenses to obtain an IIL.[25] This legislation also extended the IIL eligibility to drivers revoked due to DUI-related vehicular assault or vehicular homicide convictions and people with such convictions on their record.[26]

As a more practical matter, it generally takes the DOL approximately 2-3 weeks to process an IIL application and a driver may be unable to drive during this period of time if their license suspension or revocation has already begun.  A driver can speedy up receipt of their Ignition Interlock License by checking the delivery by email or fax box on the IIL application form.

Any person facing a loss of license due to a convicted for DUI, physical control, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault under the DUI prong, or due to an administrative suspension based on arrest is eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license.[27] This is true even for drivers who do not currently have a Washington license but who would otherwise meet eligibility requirements.[28]

A driver may apply for an IIL at any time, including immediately after receiving notice of a pending suspension under RCW 46.20.308.[29] However, by receiving an IIL a driver waives his or her right to a hearing or appeal under RCW 46.20.308.[30]

To apply for an IIL, a driver must submit an application form to the DOL which can be found on the DOL web site at http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/iil.html and meet certain legal requirements.[31] In addition to the form, the driver must pay the application fee of $100.00 and have proof of an ignition interlock device installation and SR-22 insurance on file with the DOL.[32]

An applicant for the IIL must pay the cost of installing, removing, and leasing the IID and pay an additional fee of twenty dollars per month directly to the IID vendor.[33] The IID vendor is required to remit this twenty dollar fee to the DOL for deposit into the ignition interlock device revolving account.[34] An indigent driver may apply to the DOL for exception from this twenty dollar fee and for monetary assistance in covering the costs of installing, removing and leasing an IID device and any applicable licensing fees.[35]

While a driver with an IIL must have an IID installed in a vehicle, there is a work related exception to the requirement that the driver only operate vehicles with a functioning IID installed.[36] Effective January 1, 2011 a driver with an IIL may drive a vehicle owned, leased, or rented by their employer, or those vehicles whose care or maintenance is the temporary responsibility of their employer, and driven at the employer's direction as a requirement of employment during working hours.[37] This exception was slightly narrowed in 2012 by HB 2443 and does not apply if the employer's vehicle is assigned exclusively to the restricted driver and use solely for commuting to and from work.[38]

Driving in violation of the IIL restrictions is a criminal offense and will result in a cancellation of the driver's Ignition Interlock License.[39] However, the driver would be eligible to immediately apply for a new Ignition Interlock License if they otherwise qualify.[40] Initially classified as a misdemeanor, a violation of the restrictions of an IIL was increased to a gross misdemeanor effective January 1, 2011.[41] A driver who is eligible to apply for an IIL, but who has not received one, is not considered “eligible to reinstate” for purposes of the DWLS statute.[42]

Facing a DUI Charge in Washington State?

Call Now: 206-467-2607



[1] RCW 46.20.720; 1987 C. 247 § 2

[2] RCW 46.20.720(3); RCW 46.61.5055

[3] RCW 46.20.720(3)

[4] RCW 46.20.720(3)(a)

[5] RCW 46.20.720(3)(b)

[6] RCW 46.20.720(3)(c)

[7] RCW 46.20.385(1)(c)(iii)

[8] RCW 46.20.385(1)(c)(iii)

[9] RCW 46.20.720(4)

[10] RCW 46.20.720(4)(a)

[11] RCW 46.20.720(4)(b)

[12] RCW 46.20.720(4)(c)

[13] RCW 46.20.385(3)(1)(c)(i); RCW 46.20.720(3); RCW 46.61.5055(5)(b)

[14] RCW 46.20.385(3)(1)(c)(i); RCW 46.20.720(3); RCW 46.61.5055(5)(b)

[15] RCW 46.20.720(3)

[16] RCW 46.61.500(3)(a); RCW 46.61.5249(4); RCW 46.20.720(5); HB 1789

[17] RCW 46.20.720(6)

[18] WAC 308-107-060

[19] RCW 46.20.740(2)

[20] RCW 10.05.140; RCW 46.20.740(3)

[21] RCW 46.20.740(1); RCW 46.20.740(2)

[22] RCW 46.20.740(1)

[23] List out the various bills that changed the IID/IIL laws

[24] RCW 46.20.385

[25] RCW 46.20.385(1)(a)

[26] RCW 46.20.385(1)(a), RCW 46.20.385(2)

[27] RCW 46.20.385(1)(a)

[28] RCW 46.20.385(8)(b)

[29] RCW 46.20.385(1)(b)

[30] RCW 46.20.385(1)(b)

[31] WAC 308-107-020, RCW 46.20.385

[32] RCW 46.20.380, WAC 308-107-020, RCW 46.20.385(1)(c) and RCW 46.20.385(2)

[33] RCW 46.20.385(6)(a)

[34] RCW 46.20.385(6)(a); RCW 46.20.385(6)(b); RCW 46.20.745; WAC 308-107-050

[35] WAC 308-107-060

[36] RCW 46.20.385(3)(1)(c)(i); RCW 46.20.720(3); RCW 46.61.5055(5)(b)

[37] RCW 46.20.385(3)(1)(c)(i); RCW 46.20.720(3); RCW 46.61.5055(5)(b)

[38] RCW 46.20.720(3)

[39] RCW 46.20.410

[40] RCWn 46.20.385(5)

[41] RCW 46.20.410, 2SHB 2742

[42] RCW 46.20.342(1)(b)

Facing a DUI Charge in Washington State?

Call Now: 206-467-2607

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