Displaying items by tag: Ignition Interlock


The short answer is that you probably don’t. The reason is that the State of Washington has certain statutory requirements and, additionally has additional time enhancements if a child in the vehicle. In most cases, if you have a DUI or Physical Control conviction or plea, you will be required to have an IID for at least one year. Additionally, if you are charged with reckless or negligent driving within 7 years of another alcohol-related driving offense, you can be required to put in an IID for the new non-DUI charge.


While some states have exemptions that help avoid the installation of an ignition interlock device, Washington only has the Employer Exemption. The vehicle can’t be for commuting and the employer must fill out the declaration. This is not an option for those with a CDL. However, if you are not a professional driver but drive a work vehicle during work hours, this can be an option to keep your job.


Many people struggle with the upfront costs of an ignition interlock device and it is possible you may be able to seek financial assistance for reimbursement. This option is through the Department of Licensing. You will need to fill out their financial assistance form and they will determine if you qualify based on indigency. As assistance you can refer to the DOLs indigent guidelines chart.


2020 poverty guidelines for Washington State


People in Family / Household Annual Income Monthly Income
1 $15,950 $1,329
2 $21,550 $1,796
3 $27,150 $2,263
4 $32,750 $2,729
5 $38,350 $3,196
6 $43,950 $3,663
7 $49,550 $4,129
8 $55,150 $4,596


•  For families/households with more than 8 people: add $5,600 annually, or $467 monthly, for each additional person.

Source: Washington DOL


There is one other option for those who qualify for a Tolling Medical Exemption. This is not really an exemption that allows you to drive, like the Employer Exemption, but it does allow for the clock to start ticking on your Ignition Interlock time requirement.


For example, if you are required to have an IID for one year, you could apply for this tolling application on the Washington Department of Licensing website and, if you were approved on February 1st of 2021, you could apply to reinstate your license one year later in 2022. You are NOT automatically allowed to drive and you may NOT drive during this medical tolling period. However, if you qualify, it allows you to wait the year without paying for the install and maintenance of the device in your car. Again, you must have a medical condition that meets the qualifications for the tolling exemption and be approved by DOL.

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One of the hardest parts of being arrested for a DUI is the challenge of having an ignition interlock device (IID) required for driving. If you’re a parent, there is the embarrassment of explaining that you really don’t want to carpool anymore (i.e. you don’t really want to blow going down the road with the neighbor’s kids in the car). Perhaps you drive a company car and have to explain to your boss that you’re going to need to install the IID in the company’s vehicle. Some may not let you do it and you will be required to put miles on your personal vehicle. But, in addition to the incredible inconvenience, there is a sizable financial commitment that is required. There is an expense associated with installing it in your car as well as a maintenance expense. For the above reasons, the notion of installing an ignition interlock device is very stressful for most clients.


Unfortunately, for most persons arrested for DUI, it is highly likely that the ignition interlock will be required. It can be required as a condition of release set by the Court (your blow was really high so the judge adds it to your conditions of release), as part of your sentence after being convicted, as part of your alternative resolution (a contract you enter into with the State), and as part of the Department of Licensing (DOL) administrative suspension. The DOL can suspend you because you did not request your hearing, you requested your hearing and lost, or you refused to blow into the breathalyzer at the time of arrest. There are a few scenarios where the requirement for an IID may not be the case.


Hypothetical #1

You were arrested for a DUI below the .08 standard. You might think you can’t be prosecuted for the DUI but you’d be wrong. The DUI statute allows the prosecutor to prosecute under the “effected by” prong of the statute. We used to see quite a few low blow DUI arrests in Bremerton but it can happen anywhere—it’s up to the Prosecutor in the area. However, the good news is that the Department of Licensing does not have jurisdiction over these cases. Their jurisdiction pertains to arrests made where the breathalyzer result is .08 or above. Therefore, in this low blow scenario, you could enter into some agreement with the Prosecutor to avoid a conviction on your record or you could go to trial and be found not guilty on the criminal charge and, in both cases, there would be no IID requirement.


Hypothetical #2

If you request your DOL hearing and win, there will be no administrative suspension that would trigger the IID requirement. Then, let’s suppose your defense attorney is able to get you an alternative resolution. These are called different things in different counties but some of the common names are pretrial diversion agreement (PDA), continuance without findings, or a stipulated order of continuance. These resolutions allow for your defense attorney to argue that you don’t need an IID as part of the conditions of your contract with the state. If successful, you will have no administrative or criminal IID requirement.


Hypothetical #3

As a small variation on hypothetical #2, let’s assume you won your DOL hearing but you had a high blow so you end up with an IID as part of your initial conditions of release. Since conditions of release are conditions set by the judge to secure that you will reappear for court and not be a danger to the community, they are not necessarily part of your final resolution. For example, at the time of your arraignment (your first appearance), you are given the IID requirement because you blew a .15, but months later, you enter into a PDA for 3 years (meet certain conditions in the contract—i.e. don’t get arrested again, comply with treatment suggestions, pay fines, etc.) and the Prosecutor can choose to remove the IID requirement as part of the PDA. So, you could start the case with an IID in your car but, several months later, you might be allowed to remove it.


This topic can be quite confusing and certainly not intended to be legal advice. As you can imagine, there are so many variations in DUI arrests that, if you want to know the likelihood you are going to be suspended and required to install an IID, you need to talk with an experienced criminal defense lawyer about the specific facts surrounding your arrest. There are other scenarios where an IID might not be required but it is very fact specific. If you have questions about your DUI, please give our office a call for a free consultation.  Witt Law Group is a DUI / DWI defense law firm with offices in Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington. 

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