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Feds Push for Ignition Interlock Laws to match those of Washington State

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Dec 12, 2012 | 2 Comments

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is making a push to have all states enact laws that would require even a first-time convicted drunk driver to install an ignition interlock device.

The NTSB issued its non-binding recommendation to the 33 states that don't currently require interlock devices for convicted DUI offenders. This push comes on the heels of a government study of wrong-way drivers, and findings that alcohol typically played a role in these deadly accidents, reports USA Today.

Washington state already requires ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of DUI

Washington state is one of the 17 states not impacted by the NTSB's recommendation as the state already has laws that require anyone convicted of drunk driving to install the interlock devices if they want to continue driving.  Under State law (RCW 46.20.720), requires a minimum of 1 year if a person is convicted of a first offense DUI.

An ignition interlock is basically a device that you install into the dashboard of your car. You'll have to blow into the device when you want to start your car, and the device will lock your vehicle if it detects alcohol on your breath. As you drive, you will also be prompted to regularly blow into the device to ensure your sobriety.

As you can see, an interlock device is quite burdensome. Additionally, they are very expensive.  The Washington State Patrol provides a list of approved interlock providers on their website.  Someone convicted of a DUI in Washington must have to bear the expenses of:

  • installing, leasing, and removing an ignition interlock device
  • maintaining proof of financial responsibility (usually as a SR-22 insurance certificate)
  • paying the ignition interlock application fee (which is non-refundable)
  • paying the monthly Ignition Interlock Device Revolving Account fee used to help low-income drivers

These fees and costs can amount to thousands of dollars.  And that does not includes the thousands more in costs when you include court fines, alcohol/drug evaluation and any recommended treatment, time missed away from work and attorneys fees.

The DUI attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense are here to provide professional legal assistance in Seattle and King County if you are facing a DUI charge. Our award-winning attorneys will work with you to get a fair trial, and stand by you every step of the way. Call us today at 425-284-2000, or visit us at to set up a consultation.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


Adam Susser Reply

Posted Dec 13, 2012 at 10:57:09

Arizona has also required IIDs for first time DUIs for some time now. Interestingly, the Arizona law has evolved in that period to include an escape clause for those convicted of DUI by drugs (as requiring non-alcohol DUIs to receive an alcohol related punishment did not make too much sense). Anecdotally, I have found that this requirement does little more than greatly increase the penalty on those first time offenders who already were not statistically likely to re-offend.

While I grant that this study is somewhat stale at this point (, it’s interesting that only 16 years ago, California’s MVD found that recidivism amongst DUI first offenders based on their BAC never gets higher than about 20%. Interestingly, again, according to this study, at that high 20% point, the impairment is likely caused by something other than alcohol.

Aaron J. Wolff Reply

Posted Dec 13, 2012 at 22:43:41

Until earlier this year, people who were convicted of a drug DUI offense in Washington were not eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license. This left them unable to legally drive during the period of their suspension/revocation.

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