Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

DUI Breath Tester. Blow and Go. Car Breath Machine. No matter what you call it, or what you've heard it called, in the world of DUI legislation, it is called an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). As of 2009, the IID is a mandatory requirement for an Ignition Interlock License (IIL), requiring the driver to exhale into the machine before the ignition can be started, provided the breath-alcohol concentration is lower than the pre-programmed amount.

Drivers Convicted Of Alcohol Offenses

RCW 46.20.720

As of 2012, the court is no longer required to order a person convicted of DUI / Physical Control or someone entering Deferred Prosecution to apply for an ignition interlock driver's license. That requirement is now in the hands of the Department of Licensing (DoL). They, along with the Washington State Patrol (WSP), monitor and enforce those who are required by law to have a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all motor vehicles operated by the person.

In most instances, when a person is convicted of DUI there is a period of suspension. While you can apply for an IIL during this period of suspension, and if approved, drive legally, once the period of suspension is completed, the requirement to apply for an IID (if you are not awarded full credit due to a longer criminal suspension / revocation than imposed by the DOL) begins anew. Consequently, depending on the length of the suspension or revocation, credit for suspension with IIL may be awarded, OR a new period of use of the IID and IIL begins.

This is because, following a DUI / Physical Control conviction the DoL SHALL require that, after any applicable period of suspension, revocation, or denial of driving privileges, a person may drive only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device if the person is convicted of an alcohol-related violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 or an equivalent local ordinance.

When an IID is Mandatory

The IID / IIL is mandatory when there is a DUI / Physical Control conviction. It is not mandatory when the conviction is of a lesser or different type of alcohol-related conviction such as Reckless or Negligent Driving, unless there is a prior DUI conviction, where it thereby becomes mandatory. However, in the event there are no priors, the Court retains the authority to impose the IID or any other restrictions it deems proper. The device is also mandatory as a condition of your release upon being charged with a second DUI in a lifetime!

Exceptions to the Mandatory IID

In some instances, the DoL may waive the requirement for the use of such a device if such devices are not reasonably available in the local area. Furthermore, there is an exception for the device in employer-owned vehicles you drive and their vehicle is driven as a requirement of employment during working hours. In order to qualify for this exception, you must provide the DoL with a sworn declaration from your employer stating that your employer requires you to operate the employer-owned vehicle during working hours.

Early Release? No!

Regardless of the reason necessary for the IID, if it’s a Pre-trial order, or even of the DoL requires it Post-Conviction, the requirement to have an ignition interlock device has NO EARLY release provision. If you remove the IID during a period of time when a Washington Court has ordered it as a result of a DUI condition of release, or whether you remove it after a conviction, your Washington Drivers License, or your privilege to drive in Washington with an out of state license will be suspended/revoked until the device re-installed.

A person can choose not to install it per the Court order, but then they shall not be able to drive legally, or after a conviction a person can remove early, or choose to not install, and the time needed to have the IID will pass, but not the last 6 months. This means that the last 6 months of IID requirement may not be eliminated. Removal or non-installation of the IID leading up to the last 6 months is fine, but a person will not have a valid license.

At the conclusion of the time period, the DoL will not release the restriction until it receives proof that in the last 6 month of the IID time period you have not done any of the following in the previous 6 months:

  • Tried to start the vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .04 or more;
  • Failed to take or pass any required retest;
  • Failed to get scheduled maintenance, repairs, calibration, monitoring, inspection, or replacement of the device;
  • If DoL has suspended/revoked your license.

If the device is removed early, or never installed then your drivers license is suspended, so why one is always free to remove it, or not install it, the fact remains the license is not valid and you must always show that the IID was installed, working, and had no violations in the final 6 months prior to the removal of the IID.

In Summary

As stated above, the installation of an IID is both discretionary and, at times, mandatory in any charge and alcohol-related conviction that is not a DUI / Physical Control. This is an example of the many pitfalls and collateral consequences of a DUI / Physical Control charge. Since these types of issues are constantly changing every time the legislative session ends, you need legal counsel that is aware, not only of the current law, but the future changes to that law that may take effect when your case concludes. Jonathan Rands is active in legislative changes, and since his practice is focused on DUI and all other alcohol-related crimes, he will protect your current and future legal interest.

Required Duration of an IID

The period of time the device is required depends on whether you have been convicted of DUI / Physical Control previously, and whether you were previously ordered to have an IID.

  • If you have not previously been ordered by a court to be so restricted under this section: One (1) year
  • If you have previously been restricted due to a prior DUI / Physical Control conviction: Five (5) years
  • And if you have been previously ordered on 2 prior occasions to have an IID: Ten (10) years

Violations, Tampering, or Circumventing The IID

A violation of operating a motor vehicle without an IID when required to do so is a gross misdemeanor, and if charged with this crime face a maximum punishment upon conviction of a $5,000.00 fine, or 364 days in jail, or both.

Likewise, you are guilty of a gross misdemeanor if:

  • You are restricted to the use of a vehicle equipped with an IID and you tamper with the device or direct, authorize, or request another to tamper with the device, in order to circumvent the device by modifying, detaching, disconnecting, or otherwise disabling it
  • You knowingly assists another person who is restricted to the use of a vehicle equipped with an IID to circumvent the device or to start and operate that vehicle in violation of a court order.

HOWEVER, there is no crime if the starting of a motor vehicle or the request to start a motor vehicle, equipped with an ignition interlock device is done for the purpose of safety or mechanical repair of the device or the vehicle and the person subject to the court order does not operate the vehicle.