Ignition Interlock Device

Upon an alcohol related DUI conviction, and after you have served the license suspension imposed because of the conviction, any vehicle you drive must have an ignition interlock device for a specified time, usually one year.

The interlock device is a breath testing machine attached to the ignition wiring in your car by a Washington State Patrol certified installer and will prevent your car from starting if you have alcohol on your breath above .025. In addition, the interlock includes a camera so that the identity of the individual blowing into it is recorded.

How Long is an Interlock Device Required?

In extreme cases, an ignition interlock device may be required for up to ten years. However, a citizen who has a first offense DUI will be required to have it installed for one year. The law sets forth the following schedule regarding length of interlock:

The period of time of the restriction will be as follows:

  • For a person who has not previously been restricted under this section, a period of one year;
  • For a person who has previously been restricted under (a) of this subsection, a period of five years;
  • For a person who has previously been restricted under (b) of this subsection, a period of ten years.

The ignition interlock device was initially used in Washington State only in cases involving high (over .15%) breath test cases, cases where there were prior convictions, and in cases involving alcoholics. Recent history has seen a radical change in this philosophy and currently, there is no distinction between a repeat offender and the person who made a one-time mistake so far as the ignition interlock is concerned: if there is a DUI conviction, every citizen must get an interlock license in order to drive.

What You Should Know About Ignition Interlock Devices

  • The ignition interlock device is not specific for ethyl alcohol, which is the kind that is contained in alcoholic beverages. Some interlock devices test for hydrocarbons and could give a false positive reading for alcohol due to automobile exhaust fumes.
  • A false positive test is nullified if there is a passing test within ten minutes of the false positive test so long as the digital image confirms the same person provided both samples.
  • You must present your car for inspection at least every sixty days, or more frequently if the court requires, so that the interlock can be inspected for tampering and the memory can be downloaded and reported to the court. A record is kept of the vehicle’s odometer reading at each such inspection.
  • The device will record evidence of tampering. A sticker on it warns that “tampering with it may subject you to criminal prosecution.”
  • The ignition interlock will record each time the car is started, the results of each test, how long the vehicle was operated, and the GPS location of the car when the sample was provided
  • The driver is required to submit to a “rolling retest” within ten minutes of starting the car. Thereafter, rolling retests are automatically required at specified intervals. If a rolling retest shows alcohol in excess of the set limit, the interlock will honk the vehicle's horn and flash the lights as a means of notifying the police that the driver is in violation of the interlock. The only way to stop this racket is to turn the car off or submit a breath sample which is under the set limit.
  • A “violation reset” condition occurs when a driver fails to perform a retest or is unable to pass the retest. The vehicle must then be returned to the interlock service center within five days, or the interlock will render the vehicle inoperable.
  • After a DUI conviction, if the interlock is removed without the Department of Licensing first receiving a “compliance declaration” from the interlock company, the requirement is extended.

Contact a Skilled Washington DUI Attorney

A DUI arrest can have life-altering consequences. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s best to have an experienced attorney on your side who can advise you concerning your legal rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Offering relentless representation and skillful advocacy, the Fox Law Firm PLLC has been helping clients achieve positive results in their DUI cases since 1985. Contact Attorney Jon Fox for a free consultation by calling (425) 274-9190.