Under Pennsylvania law, many DUI offenders are required to obtain ignition interlock devices for their vehicles. Even some facing their first DUI offense will have to install the device. While this may seem harsh due to the device’s cost, it does allow many people, who otherwise would have lost their driver’s licenses for a year, to keep their license and continue driving. This law allows DUI offenders to keep their driver’s licenses so that they can keep their employment while ensuring that they do not drive drunk.
Ignition Interlock Explained
An ignition interlock is a small device that is installed in a vehicle and attached to its ignition to prevent a person from driving under the influence. It works much like a breathalyzer. The vehicle will not start until the driver blows into the mouthpiece. If the driver is intoxicated, the device will detect the alcohol content on the person’s breath, and the vehicle will not start. If the device does not register any alcohol content on the person’s breath, the vehicle will start. The can device can also perform random checks, prompting the driver to blow into it to ensure that they are not operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Ignition Interlock Laws in Pennsylvania
All repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania must install the device in every car that they own. If a first time DUI offender has a BAC of .10 or higher, he or she must also install the device. The ignition interlock must remain installed in the vehicle for no less than one year. The length of time depends on certain circumstances, including how many offenses the person already has.
Under earlier Pennsylvania DUI laws, a person convicted of a DUI would lose their driver’s license for one year. That law was changed in 2016 in an effort to help prevent the loss of a driver’s license. The ignition interlock laws do not apply to people who caused a DUI accident that involved a fatality or to commercial drivers.
The offender must install the ignition interlock device on every vehicle he or she owns. This includes vehicles that are not operational, not currently registered, and classic/antique vehicles that are not currently carrying insurance (seasonal). If the person shares one car with the rest of his or her family, then that vehicle must be equipped with the device. Also, anyone who drives it must go through the breath test anytime the system prompts in order to be able to operate it.
Obtaining and Installing Ignition Interlock Devices
PennDOT has a list of approved vendors on their webpage. The Installation Service Centers lease the devices and determine the cost. The average cost for a one-year lease of an ignition interlock device is approximately $1,200.
PennDOT’s Forms and Publications page provides the forms for Self-Certification of Vehicles (DL-21SC), Hardship Exemption (DL-21SC), and Employment Exemption (DL-3805).
Enforcement and Penalties of Ignition Interlock Laws
When a person is required to use an ignition interlock, they will have to apply for a special license issued by PennDOT. This “ignition interlock” license has a unique appearance that law enforcement can easily recognize. If the police stops a person, and that person provides an ignition interlock license, then the vehicle that person is driving must be equipped with an ignition interlock device.
If the vehicle does not have an ignition interlock device yet the person operating it has an ignition interlock license, they will be subject to serious penalties including imprisonment and fines:
- First Offense: Their ignition interlock period will be extended an additional 12 months from the date they are convicted of driving without the device
- Second Offense and Subsequent Offenses: Their license will be suspended for 12 months and it will not be restored until they comply with ignition interlock
If you have been charged with a DUI, you need to know your rights. You may apply for an ignition interlock if you want to drive or need to drive. It is expensive, but it can help you keep your employment so it may be an option for you.
Before you make any decisions, though, you need to talk to an experienced, knowledgeable DUI attorney who can help you make an informed decision. Talk to the lawyers at DRK Attorneys and get the help that you need. They will sit with you and discuss your situation so that you are fully informed. The can also help you if you’ve been charged with violating an ignition interlock law. Call today; the initial consultation is free.