Ignition Interlock License Basics

How to Keep Driving when Washington State Suspends Your Drivers License for DUI or Drug Related Offenses.

Today’s world revolves around people being able to drive—it is a mainstay to keep employment and otherwise live your life.  Unfortunately, sometimes people make mistakes that result in a person’s ability to legally drive to be suspended.  Fortunately, in Washington State the legislature has recognized this fact of life and has created a means to protect society and the individual who made the mistake! If you have had your personal driver’s license suspended by the State of Washington for an alcohol or drug-related offense (criminal or administrative), you can immediately apply to the Washington Department of Licensing for an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL).  This is a special license that will allow you to drive a non-commercial motor vehicle 24 hours a day, seven days week, just like a normal driver’s license with some specific requirements that will be discussed below.  The legal authority for this is RCW 46.20.385.

Do Other States Recognize IIL?

VERY IMPORTANT:  Other states may not recognize the IIL, so it is critical that if you intend to drive in another state other than Washington you contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in that state, research the law in that state or obtain a legal opinion to ensure that you will not be unlawfully driving in that state, due to that state not recognizing the IIL.

How to Qualify for IIL?

In order to qualify for an IIL from the Washington Department of Licensing, you must demonstrate all of the following information: 

  1. That you have an arrest or conviction for any of the following criminal offenses:
    • DUI or Physical Control involving drugs or alcohol
    • Reckless Driving
    • Vehicular Assault involving drugs or alcohol
    • Vehicular Homicide involving drugs or alcohol
  2. You have a current Washington driver’s license or a current out of state driver license
  3. Your current suspension or revocation does not include:
    • Minor in Possession, or
    • Habitual Traffic Offender (Suspended by the Washington Department of licensing in the first degree)

Again, you may apply for an IIL at any time.  However, when you get an IIL, you must maintain an interlock device in all the vehicles you drive for the entire length of your driver’s license suspension.  If you fail to do this and are caught driving a vehicle without the interlock license, you could lose your IIL and also be charged with a criminal offense for driving without an IIL in Washington (See RCW 46.20.410 and RCW 46.20.745) or potentially in another state, when required to do so under Washington law.

To Apply for IIL

In order to apply for an IIL, you must do the following:

  1. Install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. The installer will send DOL proof of installation.
  2. Get proof of financial responsibility, such as a Certificate of Insurance (SR–22).
  3. Complete a Restricted Driver License Application.
  4. Submit the application and fee, which is non-refundable.

In addition, the Washington Department of Licensing will only issue ignition interlock licenses to people who have a Washington driver’s license or a valid out of state driver license.

Work Vehicles and IIL

If you drive with an IIL for work, any and all vehicle(s) you drive must be equipped with an ignition interlock device if your employer: owns, leases, or rents the vehicle; or is temporarily responsible for its care or maintenance.

The State of Washington will waive the requirement to have an ignition interlock device in a work vehicle if you get your employer to sign an Employer Declaration for Ignition Interlock Exemption; send the Washington DOL a copy of the signed declaration before you drive any work vehicle; and carry a copy of the declaration with you whenever you drive a work vehicle that isn’t equipped with an interlock device.  It is also very important to understand that the ignition interlock device requirement cannot be waived if the work vehicle is assigned to you alone, and is used only for going to and from work. 

IIL Costs

​You’re responsible for paying all the interlock device costs, including but not limited to: a. cost of installing, leasing, and removing the ignition interlock device; cost of maintaining proof of financial responsibility; the IIL application fee, which is non–refundable, even if the application is not approved; the monthly Ignition Interlock Device Revolving Account fee used to help low–income drivers obtain financial assistance for obtaining an IIL. 

If you are low income (falling within the poverty guidelines below), you may qualify for financial help during the time you have an IIL or IID requirement. If you are approved for financial assistant, the State of Washington will reimburse your provider $80 per month for each of the following service: 1.  Installation; 2.  Monthly lease fee; 3. Removing the device, or 4. Transfer the ignition interlock device to another vehicle.  In order to apply for financial assistance, you must submit an Ignition Interlock Device Financial Assistance Application to the Washington Department of Licensing.  

The financial guidelines to qualify require you to be indigent and meet the following cut–off level:

2017 Poverty Guidelines for Washington State

Family/Household Size:Monthly Income
1$1,256
2$1,692
3$2,127
4$2,563
5$2,998
6$3,433
7$3,869
8$4,340

If you or someone you know is currently fighting a DUI charge and needs help from a DUI Attorney, please contact the Law Office of Nicholas Wood, P.S.. We can help you!