It seems that every year, the Legislature makes Washington ignition interlock device (IID) requirements stricter, longer and more burdensome for those accused and found guilty of DUI here in Washington and elsewhere. So it is very likely that an ignition interlock will be a reality for most citizens who are accused of drinking and driving. So what is it? How does it work? How can you get one installed?
What Is A Washington Ignition Interlock Device?
The Washington ignition interlock device (IID) is a handheld device that must be hard-wired into your car and affects its ignition system. It uses a fuel cell technology to determine whether there is any alcohol on the driver’s breath and how much.
The IID requires the driver to provide a breath sample prior to the vehicle being started. Once a sample is provided, analyzed, and clear, it will permit the vehicle to start. If your breath test measures above .025, then the car will be temporarily disabled and positive test is then stored on the device and eventually transmitted to probation and/or the Dept. of Licensing. The devices are also now required to take a picture of the person blowing into the device to ensure it is not the passenger providing the sample.
In addition, while the vehicle is on, the device will randomly and frequently require the driver to provide additional samples. As a result, many drivers will be required to place the device in their lap as they drive for easy access when prompted for a sample. Although the device can be hidden under the seat, in a console, or even a glove box when the vehicle is parked, there is simply no way to use the device discreetly while driving. It will always be seen by the passengers.
The good news is that in Washington ignition interlock devices usually need only be installed on your personal vehicle and not on work vehicles. In other words, if you drive a work-owned vehicle for work purposes, then you don’t have to have it installed on your work vehicle as long as you have the device on your personal vehicle. Of course, you must apply for the work vehicle exemption. The application is here.
Where To Get An IID
In Washington ignition interlock devices are installed and leased to you by third-party vendors. The list of vendors authorized by the Washington State Patrol can be found here. However, we encourage our clients to use Smart Start for the simple reason that installation, maintenance and false positives can sometimes be a problem and we have found that Smart Start to be the most responsive when dealing with these issues.
The cost is usually around $100 -$110 per month to lease. Some IID companies charge installation fees, others charge higher monthly fees instead of installation fees or waive the instillation fee with if you sign a longer contract.
Generally, Washington ignition interlock companies use local auto repair, car audio and detail shops to install and maintain the devices, so there is likely a place close to where you live or work. Find a place convenient for you because most companies require you to take the vehicle in monthly or bi-monthly for maintenance and downloading of the data.
Most often, the ignition interlock device will have to be installed in order to qualify for an ignition interlock license (IIL).