We get a lot of phone calls from people trying to figure out how to get their driving privileges back in the event of a Washington State license suspension following a DUI arrest, or similar charge. A lot of confusion stems from a lack of understanding about the difference between what can be done during a license suspension versus what should happen after the suspension period is over.
During any period of license suspension resulting from an alcohol related arrest (whether the suspension is the result of an administrative action or a conviction in court), the only means by which a person can drive is by using the Ignition Interlock License. This requires three steps: 1) provide proof of financial responsibility (usually by way of SR-22 insurance), 2) provide proof of installation of the device, and 3) mail in the IIL application form with the required $100.00 fee (there is no indigency waiver option for the application fee). The insurance and interlock companies will send proof directly to DOL, so the driver need only mail the application and fee. Please keep in mind that DOL will not process the application until the driver’s record reflects proof of the insurance and interlock.
After the period of suspension is over, the driver may be eligible to reinstate driving privileges, which means getting a new plastic license, but there may be conditions attached. For example, for a person convicted of driving under the influence, an ignition interlock device requirement may follow a suspension period. Also, proof of completion of the alcohol assessment and compliance with recommended treatment is also required as a condition of reinstatement (*** this is not required for using the IIL during the suspension period). A driver may also have to re-test in order to reinstate, even if they have continued to operate a vehicle using the IIL during a license suspension. The DOL imposes a re-testing requirement for any suspension that is longer than 90 days in length, regardless of whether or not the person remains driving with the IIL during the suspension.
Hopefully this brief summary helps clear up some confusion for drivers facing a suspension (during which they can use the IIL) and/or needing to reinstate after a suspension (which can require the interlock device, re-testing, reinstatement fees, and/or proof of treatment compliance).