Tuesday, February 1, 2011

DUI Ignition Interlock requirements in Seattle

If you have been charged with a DUI or physical control offense in either Seattle or Washington State chances are you may be facing the possibility of having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

In case you're not familiar with what this is.  An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID and BIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed to a motor vehicle's dashboard. Before the vehicle's motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device, if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration—usually 0.02% or 0.04%, the device prevents the engine from being started.

At random times after the engine has been started, the IID will require another breath sample. The purpose of this is to prevent a friend from breathing into the device, enabling the intoxicated person to get behind the wheel and drive away. If the breath sample isn't provided, or the sample exceeds the ignition interlock's preset blood alcohol level, the device will log the event, warn the driver and then start up an alarm (e.g., lights flashing, horn honking, etc.) until the ignition is turned off, or a clean breath sample has been provided. A common misconception is that interlock devices will simply turn off the engine if alcohol is detected; this would, however, create an unsafe driving situation and expose interlock manufacturers to considerable liability. An interlock device cannot turn off a running vehicle, all that an Interlock device can do is interrupt the starter circuit and prevent the engine from starting.

Now as I said before you have been charged with a DUI or physical control offense in Seattle or Washington State there are potentially 3 times you could face possibility of being required to have this device installed:

First, would be at your DUI arraignment in Seattle or Washington State.  From previous blog postings you should be familiar with this process.  If not click here, or visit my website.  At your arraignment the Judge will determine whether or not to impose conditions of your release while the DUI or Physical Control case is pending.  Typically these conditions include abstaining from alcohol, no driving unless valid license and insurance, and appear for all court dates.  However in certain circumstances the Judge can imposed enhanced conditions of your release.  These can include bail, electronic home monitoring, or installing an ignition interlock device.  These circumstances on determined on a case by case basis, and can occur if a person has been convicted of a DUI before, or if they were involved in an accident, or if they had a high breath test.  Unfortunately many DUI attorneys don't know the law for when these enhanced conditions can be imposed.  Usually if your case is filed in Seattle Municipal Court, chances are an ignition interlock device will be imposed at your arraignment.   At Leyba Defense PLLC we strenuously object to these conditions as a violation of a persons DUI process as well as a violation of the Criminal Rule 3.2 (release of the accused).  If you have had an ignition interlock device imposed at your arraignment, contact my firm immediately to determine the best course of action to get this thing removed.  As of the last 4 cases to have an IID imposed we have taken, my firm was able to get that condition released by the next court hearing.

Second, would be for any conviction of a DUI or Physical Control charge.  Based on a conviction the Department of License can require a person to install an ignition interlock device for either 1, 5, or 10 years depending on the number of prior requirements, and the persons criminal history.

Third, would be if you applied for an ignition interlock license.  In Washington State the Legislature passed a bill a couple of years ago which no longer required a person to sit out their license suspension.  Now if a person get their license suspended either administratively or from a conviction, they can apply for an ignition interlock license.  There are three requirements: 1. Install an ignition interlock device in car, 2. Apply and get SR-22 insurance, 3. Fill out the application and send in the fee to DOL.  Once DOL receives proof of these three requirements, it usually takes 3-5 business days to issue the ignition interlock license.

If you have been ordered to install an ignition interlock device from your DUI or Physical Control in Seattle or Washington State, you should contact my firm immediately to understand the requirements exactly.  If a person has been ordered to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, and they get caught driving without it, there can be severe sanctions imposed.  Bail and your personal recognizance can be revoked, you could be charged with a new criminal offense, and you can face other potential collateral consequences.

Matthew A. Leyba | DUI Attorney

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