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Who is required to use ignition interlock devices in Washington?

An ignition interlock device can be required by the Washington State Department of Licensing for drivers who have been convicted of a drunk driving offense but who need to be able to drive their vehicle for work or other approved purposes. The law operates in two basic ways: the Department can require the use of an ignition interlock device for anyone convicted of a drunk driving offense, or a person convicted of a drunk driving offense can ask permission to use the device in order to continue driving.

An ignition interlock device is a breath-tester that prevents an ignition switch from starting the engine unless the driver breathes into the device and demonstrates a blood alcohol content lower than .025 percent. The state can require the installation of an ignition interlock device if a person has been convicted for a DUI, some convictions of reckless or negligent driving or any other reason deemed by the court to necessitate the use of the device. The driver must pay for the installation and removal of the device.

The minimum use period for an ignition interlock device varies by type of offence. The device must be used for at least six months for convictions of reckless or negligent driving. If a person has been convicted of DUI, the device will be required to be used for one year for the first offense, at least five years for the second offense and at least 10 years for a third or subsequent offense. Anyone who has satisfied the minimum use restrictions can apply to the Director of Licensing to have his license reinstated.

Anyone who is facing charges for a DUI that may entail use of an ignition interlock device if convicted may wish to consult a lawyer who is experienced in handling DUI cases. A capable criminal defense attorney can provide helpful advice on the facts of the case, suggest potential defenses and offer an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: Washington State Department of Licensing, "Ignition Interlock Device," accessed on Oct. 30, 2017

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