In 2008, the Washington State Legislature created the Ignition Interlock License (IIL). Effective in January of 2009, individuals who had been convicted of DUI or had their license suspended or revoked administratively were, in most cases, now given the opportunity to continue driving during the period of suspension/revocation so long as this new law was satisfied. Gone for the most part was the occupation license, that allowed a person to drive after a certain period of the suspension had been completed so long there was a signed declaration from the driver’s employer stating that driving was a necessary component of employment. There were also exceptions for schooling and treatment. Now, when eligible, a person need only equip his vehicle with an ignition interlock device, show proof of financial responsibility (SR-22) and file an application with the DOL.
Like most revolutionary new laws, this one also created a host of new problems, inconsistencies and outright inanities. So in 2010, the legislature re-addressed the ignition interlock law and made several amendments. Now, as of January 1, 2011, several new changes to the ignition interlock law become effective. Most changes were good. Some…not so good. And others, still inane. Regardless, there is much for the Washington DUI Lawyer to consider.
New Offenses Gain Ignition Interlock License Eligibility
For the first time new classes of suspensions, previously unrecognized, are eligible for an ignition interlock license. Those convicted of alcohol related Vehicular Assault of Vehicular Homicide. Drug related DUI or Physical Control. Those with prior Vehicular Assault or Vehicular Homicide within seven (7) years. Unfortunately, the legislature still has not addressed the inconsistency in allowing for an ignition interlock license in virtually every DUI related suspension or conviction but not for suspensions due to suspensions based upon Reckless Driving convictions where the original charge was DUI.
Changes Regarding Court Mandated IIL
There were also changes made to the circumstances where and when a DUI conviction mandates a court order for acquisition of an IIL. The previous law only required IIL be order for alcohol related DUI/Physical Control. In 2011, this mandate applies to drug related convictions as well. The new law, however, is more notable for when the court is not required to order an ignition interlock license than when it is.
Now, the court can waive the mandatory requirement in several situations. Most notably: when the defendant lives out of state and the requirement to install an IID is unreasonable, when the defendant does not operate a motor vehicle, or where, for some other reason, the defendant is not eligible to obtain an IIL. And fortunately, the legislature saw fit this time around to remove one of the most ridiculous requirements in Washington DUI history.
In 2009, if the court did not order an IIL when it would have been otherwise required, the court was itself required to order the defendant wear a SCRAM bracelet for what would have been the duration of the IIL. This order was regardless of whether the defendant had been ordered to abstain from the use of alcohol. The effect was that a person who could not obtain an IIL because he did not own a car, had to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet despite being allowed to consume alcohol. Mercifully, that requirement has been stricken in cases where abstinence has not been ordered.
Finally, a defendant will no longer be required to apply for an IIL as the result of entering into a deferred prosecution. This requirement become a particular problem because of the inconsistence that it created. Those who enter into a deferred prosecution in Washington, in most cases, do not receive a license suspension. With out a license suspension, there would be no reason for compliance with SR-22 requirements. An IIL, however, by it’s very definition, requires acquisition of SR-22. Thus, one of the key benefits of entering into the deferred prosecution was removed due to the requirement of an IIL. This costly inconsistency in the law has now been rectified.
Department of Licensing Jurisdiction and the IIL
Changes have also been made granting the Washington DOL additional authority to require installation of an ignition interlock device. Now the DOL can require IIDs due to alcohol and drug related DUI and Physical control suspensions whereas previously it could only be required for alcohol related convictions. Also, the DOL now has the official authority to order an ignition interlock device upon notice of any out of state DUI conviction. But the biggest change ushered in with this new law, as far as the DOL is concerned, are the rules governing when an IID can be removed.
Starting January 1, 2011, a driver subject to an IID requirement must make a threshold showing that certain events did not occur during the four consecutive months prior to the date of IID removal eligibility before removal of the device will be allowed. Essentially a person subject to the IID requirement will now have to show that there were no attempts to start the vehicle equipped with the IID with a BAC of greater that .04, that there were no failures to pass or take any IID retest, and that there were no failures to take the vehicle to the assigned IID dealer for required maintenance. And all of this must be proven to be the case for four straight months prior to eligibility for removal of the IID.
There are also some changes to the manner and method in which the DOL is required to give notice of IIL cancellation and what the individual can do to reapply for an IIL that has been cancelled as well as certain exceptions created for drivers of employer owned or rented vehicles.
By and large, the majority of these changes appear positive for the driver. Eligibility for the IIL has been extended to classes previously unrecognized, the draconian requirement that a SCRAM bracelet be required for those convicted of DUI who cannot get an IIL, irrespective of whether abstinence from alcohol has been ordered has been lifted, the IIL and its expensive SR22 requirement has been terminated for those seeking deferred prosecution, and the waiver of the IIL requirement in certain DUI conviction instances has been recognized.
Not all changes are positive however. The affirmative requirement that a person show four consecutive months of “good” IID behavior prior to being allowed to remove the device is going to cause a great deal of trouble for a great many people. Also, the DOL can require an IID in more situations than it previously could and it has relaxed requirements for notifying a person that his IIL has been cancelled.
Finally, the Reckless Driving paradox has still not been dealt with. In virtually every outcome for a DUI related incident an individual will be able to drive, regardless of the suspension, due to the availability of the IIL. Even in cases of vehicular assault and vehicular homicide. For some reason, however, this still does not apply to DUI charges that are reduced to reckless driving and the 30 license suspension that follows.
But I guess if they got it right the first time, what would they have to work on later?