Can I Get an Occupational License for Work?

If you are convicted of drunk driving your license will be suspended. The minimum suspension is 90 days, for a DUI with no priors first time offense where the breath test results were under .15. There is no “occupational license” available for a DUI conviction as this has been replaced by the “Ignition Interlock License” under recent changes to Washington state DUI laws. The ignition interlock license allows you to drive during the period of a license suspension for a DUI conviction so long as the vehicle you drive is equipped with an ignition interlock device (a breath test device attached to your car that prevents it from starting if alcohol is detected).

In addition, “SR22” insurance is required. There are no limitations on time or where you can drive in Washington State with an ignition interlock license but if you need to drive a company car, the ignition interlock requirement could be a problem as generally, employers don’t want to equip company cars with ignition interlock devices. The law has a limited answer for this problem — the “employer vehicle” exception. This exception is set forth in RCW 46.70.720(3)(b) which states:

 …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 RCW 9A.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) The employer exemption does not apply:

(A) When the employer’s vehicle is assigned exclusively to the restricted driver and used solely for commuting to and from employment;

(B) For the first thirty days after an ignition interlock device has been installed as the result of a first conviction of a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance; or

(C) For the first three hundred sixty-five days after an ignition interlock device has been installed as the result of a second or subsequent conviction of a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504 or an equivalent local or out-of-state statute or ordinance.

This provision of the law makes no sense. If the goal of the “employer exception” is to avoid loss of job, it is not served by preventing the employee from doing the job for 30 days to a year, depending upon the record.

A driver who is covered by the “employer vehicle” exception would drive his/her ignition interlock equipped vehicle to work, but would be permitted to drive a car owned by the employer during work hours, and the employer’s vehicle would not be required to be equipped with an ignition interlock device. This is good news but on the other hand, the law requires that the employer sign a declaration certifying that the employee does need to drive as a condition of employment, so in this circumstance there is no way to avoid notifying the employer of the DUI conviction.

Here are the forms you need when a DUI license suspension has occurred:

Questions: Call Jon Fox (425) 274-9190

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