Occupational Drivers License

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 There is no “occupational drivers license” available for a DUI conviction as this has been replaced by the “Ignition Interlock License” under recent changes to Washington state DUI laws.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 “time/place” restrictions 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 an answer for this problem — the “employer vehicle” exception. This exception is set forth in RCW 46.61.5055(4)(b) which states:
“The installation of an ignition interlock device is not necessary on vehicles owned by a person’s employer and driven 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 during working hours.”
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:
  • Ignition Interlock License Application
  • Employer Declaration
The DOL does not automatically issue an occupational drivers license. Assuming you are otherwise eligible, you must first file proof of financial responsibility. This is done by having an insurance company file a form with the DOL called an SR22, which shows that you have purchased high risk insurance. Then, you must file the application for the occupational driver license along with any required fee.
The DOL will not even consider issuing a work permit to some people. Among the ineligible are those with a prior DUI conviction where the date of the arrest for the prior offense is within seven years of the date of the arrest for the current incidents, or who have had a license suspension within the last year. Nor will the DOL issue a work permit to anyone who has refused the breath test. In addition, if a commercial driver’s license is suspended for a DUI, you may not get a work permit which includes a commercial endorsement, even if it costs you your job. This information includes only the most common occupational license issues and as is usually the case with Washington’s DUI laws, the law and procedures regarding occupational licenses is quite complicated. For advice regarding the application of the law to your specific case, you should contact a competent DUI lawyer who has experience in this area of the law.