Ignition Interlock Device – “Blow & Go” – What’s Involved? What are the basics?

Ignition Interlock Device – “Blow & Go” – What’s Involved?  What are the basics?

I saw an online chat discussion about Ignition Interlock Devices today at:  https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinfuriating/comments/3yj8g3/anyone_else_mildly_upset_when_they_see_ads_that/.  That forum discussion raises some additional and interesting questions, which I will address at the end of this blog.  But first, let’s look at the basics of the IID requirement in Washington State.

If any Washington State court, or the Department of Licensing (“DOL”) – or both – orders you to have an Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”) installed on your vehicle and not to drive without a functioning IID on your vehicle, that is a very strict and serious requirement.  You will be court-ordered to have an IID IF you’re convicted of DUI, Physical Control (of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs) receive a Deferred Prosecution, or if a judge elects to impose IID as a condition of release at your arraignment or at a Review Hearing.  You’ll be required by the DOL to have an IID for the same above-listed convictions, a Deferred Prosecution, or to obtain a restricted license also known as an Ignition Interlock License (“IIL”) which will allow many people to drive after conviction of DUI or Physical Control, and/or during suspension or revocation of their driver’s license (this does not include Habitual Traffic Offender Revocation, “HTO,” though, and that topic is covered in greater detail on my website).  Note also that, if I can get your DUI reduced to Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving First degree – unless you have a prior conviction or convictions for DUI, making it mandatory.

Failing to have an IID installed when it has been either ordered by a court (often as a condition of release in a DUI case and sometimes then in lieu of a high bail for repeat DUI offenders) can trigger a Review hearing.  Driving without an IID installed on the vehicle driven when you’re required by a court and/or DOL to have one is a crime, so that is usually both a probation violation (with a mandatory minimum jail time of 30 days pursuant to RCW 46.61.5055) and a new, separate criminal charge, a misdemeanor punished by up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine – IF YOU ARE CONVICTED.  The DOL makes a notation on the driving record on their computer database of any driver required for any reason to have an IID.  (RCW 46.20.740).  Then subsections (2) and (3) of that statute will apply if this requirement is breached.  Here is the relevant statute:

RCW 46.20.740

Notation on driving record—Verification of interlock—Penalty, exception.

(1) The department shall attach or imprint a notation on the driving record of any person restricted under RCW 46.20.720, 46.61.5055, or 10.05.140 stating that the person may operate only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. The department shall determine the person’s eligibility for licensing based upon written verification by a company doing business in the state that it has installed the required device on a vehicle owned or operated by the person seeking reinstatement. If, based upon notification from the interlock provider or otherwise, the department determines that an ignition interlock required under this section is no longer installed or functioning as required, the department shall suspend the person’s license or privilege to drive. Whenever the license or driving privilege of any person is suspended or revoked as a result of noncompliance with an ignition interlock requirement, the suspension shall remain in effect until the person provides notice issued by a company doing business in the state that a vehicle owned or operated by the person is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.

(2) It is a gross misdemeanor for a person with such a notation on his or her driving record to operate a motor vehicle that is not so equipped, unless the notation resulted from a restriction imposed as a condition of release and the restriction has been released by the court prior to driving.

(3) Any sentence imposed for a violation of subsection (2) of this section shall be served consecutively with any sentence imposed under RCW 46.20.750, 46.61.502, 46.61.504, or 46.61.5055.

Ignition Interlock must be paid for by the driver required to have it.  Some outfits charge for installation at $140 to $175 on the average, but many do not.  The monthly fees are anywhere from $65 to $125, depending on the device and the company you choose.  If you are indigent, though see this page on the DOL website because you might quality for some financial help on this cost:  http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/ignitioninterlock.html.  It says there:

Help for low-income drivers

You may be eligible for financial help during the time you have an IIL or IID requirement if you can’t afford to install, lease, remove or transfer* an ignition interlock device in the vehicles you drive. To apply for assistance, submit an Ignition Interlock Device Financial Assistance Application:

  • To qualify, you must be indigent (see RCW 10.101.010) and meet the following cut-off level:
2015 poverty guidelines for Washington State
People in family/householdMonthly income
  • If you’re approved, you’ll need to reapply every year.
  • If you’re denied, you may reapply in 6 months.

There are numerous IID companies that install, monitor, periodically calibrate and report IID violations to the DOL / courts / probation departments.  One good and reliable list of those various private companies is found on the Washington State Patrol (“WSP”) website, at:  http://www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/interlock.htm.  It has some basic IID information and a list of six (6) state-certified IID models and manufacturers.

The newest IID and other alcohol breath test devices are the highly controversial Draeger (aka Dräger) devices.  Those are usually the Draeger Interlock 7000 and the Draeger Alcotest 9510 used now at most of our police stations for alcohol breath testing after a DUI arrest during the DUI arrest booking process.

These Dräger devices, whether for the vehicle in IID form or for use at police stations for court-admissible breath testing, assuming the breath tests thereon are properly administered by the police, are highly controversial.  They claim to have the fastest ‘warm-up’ times, to be alcohol specific (many older generation breath test devices had various false positives, such as from garlic, orange or lemon oil, licorice oil, etc.), and to be more accurate due to their blow-and-suck breath pattern requirement.  However, in our area a potentially nationally relevant, if not worldwide, challenge to the Draeger devices is currently underway.  Due to certain flaws on implementation of the Draeger 9510’s in our state, though, this litigation (thus far in Snohomish County District Court and Kitsap County District Court) will almost certainly impact the use and validity of Draeger breath testing in this state of Washington.  The state purchased the Draeger 9510’s about 4-5 years ago, has been keeping them in storage (contrary to manufacturer’s specifications and requirements) until recently starting to use them in 2015, and our state also declined to purchase the $8,000+ thermometer attachment sold as an “option” with the Draeger 9510’s, but without which their readings, maintenance, reliability and now therefore, statewide admissibility, is in serious question.  I’ll cover that fascination new litigation initiated by the local DUI defense bar in subsequent blogs, as it is too complicated for this blog.  So stay tuned on that, folks.

How long do you have to have an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle?  Well, it depends.  The period of time the device is required depends on whether you have been convicted of DUI / Physical Control previously, and whether you were previously ordered to have an IID.

  • If you have not previously been ordered by a court to be so restricted under this section, the IID / IIL is required for a period of one (1) year;
  • If you have previous been restricted due to a prior DUI / Physical Control conviction a period of five (5) years;
  • And if you have been previously ordered on 2 prior occasions to have an IID, then it is a period of ten (10) years.

The blog at: https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinfuriating/comments/3yj8g3/anyone_else_mildly_upset_when_they_see_ads_that/, entitled:  “anyone else mildly upset when they see ads that are offering to keep drunk drivers on the road?” refers to an ad at http://imgur.com/KlVqB6a.  The forum participants raise some good issues. One such question concerns a person with an IID requirement having someone else blow into their IID for them.  Absolutely stupid!  There is a camera recording everything the driver does installed on the windshield so you would be detected that way if it is seen due to any questions raised, such as by a subsequent blow showing alcohol, when the vehicle is soonafter restarted an hour or two later, or during so-called “rolling retests” when you have to blow into the IID while you are driving (which can also be dangerous as to your driving).  Trying to get around (circumvent) the IID, or tampering with it, which some folks do, attempting to modify disconnect it, etc., is a highly frowned-upon gross misdemeanor.  Both the driver required to have the IID and the “friend” who is dumb enough to blow into it for him or her can be criminally charged, and the driver who had his buddy or relative blow for him/her will face additional consequences from the court who ordered him to have it, if it was court-ordered.  In that situation, the judge won’t be very happy, to put it mildly.  You might want to bring either me or your toothbrush to that sort of Review hearing, and some bail money, too.

The blogger who said the purpose of IID’s is to allow only sober drivers on our roads is right.  It does help to serve that function.  But, let’s face it, it is constitutionally invasive and technically both complex and questionable.  There must limits to the government’s right to intrude into our homes, cars, etc.  We could equip every bedroom, every room there is with a camera, like on the TV show “Person of Interest” We could use technology to prevent crime much more, such as in the movie “The Minority report,” where Tom Cruise stars and the government can see a crime before it happens.  Technology is moving and evolving faster than legal scholars can predict its consequences.  The increasing use of cameras at intersections and the advent of the use of drones as a hobby and for government and industry related purposes are other examples all around us.  In 2015, we are already getting dangerously close to Orwell’s book, “1984.”  What will be next?

Stay tuned and thanks for reading my blog