In 2009 the legislature made a significant change to the laws regarding the ability to legally drive for those arrested for DUI. New legislation implemented a new type of license for those under suspension due to a DUI arrest or conviction. This new license is called an ignition interlock license (IIL). Previously a person suspended as a result of a DUI conviction or Department Of Licensing (DoL) administrative suspension/revocation had the ability to drive with an ignition interlock device but the license criteria was very restrictive and was really only feasible for those who had never been arrested for DUI before.
The previous license was called a Occupational/Restricted License (ORL). For a first time arrestee who provided a breath test the driver was eligible to obtain this license but only after the first 30 days of the suspension had run. Also, the previous licensing scheme restricted when and where the driver could travel. For those who refused a breath sample and were under suspension (legally called a revocation) the driver was still eligible for the special license but only after waited the first 90 days of the 1 year revocation period had run. For those driver’s who were previously arrested and suspended for a DUI within 7 years, they faced a a 2 year revocation and the person was required to wait a full year before they could obtain the license. These 30 or 1 year waiting periods impacted a person’s ability to work, participate in treatment etc.
As a result of this very restrictive licensing scheme, many suspended and revoked persons simply could not wait the mandatory periods and to be quite honest many drove illegally. While some were stopped and arrested for Driving While license Suspended, Second Degree, I would guess that most violators were not caught. Fortunately the legislature recognized the dangers of the very restrictive ORL program given the large number of potentially unlicensed drivers who were on the road.
Consequently, the current IIL legislation was created and remains in place today with a few slight modifications followed by a few more tweaks in January 2011 . Those not eligible for the IIL because their suspension is not alcohol related, there is still an ORL program, but it now addresses those driver’s who are suspended/revoked for reasons other than DUI.
The IIL now makes almost everyone eligible for the special license regardless of whether the suspension/revocation was via the Departmental Administrative action pre-conviction, or for a actual conviction. To be eligible for this license the persons drive record must show: an arrested for, or conviction of, an alcohol-related DUI, Physical Control, or Minor Operating After Consuming Alcohol, (those convicted of Drug DUI are NOT eligible until January 2011), and the driver license was valid on the date of conviction or before the date of any suspension/revocation. At the time of IIL Application, the application fee of $100.00 must be paid, proof of financial responsibility (SR22 Insurance is the most common method) must be present, and proof of an ignition interlock device installation for every vehicle you drive.
Assuming the applicant meets the above criteria and presents all the required information they will be issued an Ignition Interlock License. The license itself is a standard sheet of paper and while the DoL will maintain electronic evidence of the status in their system. A holder of the IIL must make sure they have the license with them when they drive just like a regular license. The successful applicant will receive the license in the specified manner requested on the application (Email; Fax, or US mail).
A person is NOT eligible for an IIL if the person has been convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide within seven years of the suspension date or , if the person is under a suspension/revocation for a conviction for Minor In Possession (MIP), Reckless Driving amended from a DUI, or Habitual Traffic Offender.
While an IIL is not the only solution, and certainly not a cure for the disease of alcohol abuse or dependence the program is a way to allow a person to maintain their occupation, attend treatment, and minimize specific recidivism. The IIL is also required for those who enter a Deferred Prosecution as a means of enforcing abstinence for the first year of the 5 year program. Currently, however, the Department requires the IID/IIL for 2 years despite the Courts only ordering the IID for 1 year if first time the person was ordered to have a IID, but January 1. 2011 legislation will harmonize this discrepancy.
IILs and IIDs are by no means a perfect solution but on a short term basis they seem to be the best way to satisfy demands and concerns of the public at large and since many IILs are required via the Department of Licensing before any criminal punishment is imposed they strike a balance between punishment prior to conviction and public safety. As mentioned previously, those who are convicted of DUI will be required to have an IIL regardless of that the DoL requires and the requirement post-conviction will be for at least 1 year. Ironically, however, the technological limitations of the device may be more dangerous than an actual impaired driver but technology should catch up sooner than later.
An application for a IIL can have some unintended consequences that a driver MUST be aware of before requesting the license and only a lawyer or attorney who limits their practice to a DUI defense has the specialized knowledge to make sure there are no unintended consequences.