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Ignition Interlock Laws in Washington

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Washington state treats driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol as a serious crime. When a police officer arrests you and asks you to take a chemical test to determine your level of intoxication, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, or a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, can lead to a DUI arrest and subsequent charges.

Depending on the number of previous offenses and your level of intoxication, Washington will impose a number of penalties for a DUI. You may face jail time, significant fines, license suspension or revocation, and mandatory participation in a sobriety program. In addition, all people charged with DUI in Washington must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a small tool that connects to your car. You blow into it at one end to measure the amount of alcohol that is currently in your breath, the same way that a breathalyzer test measures your BAC. If you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system, the device will not allow you to start your car. You must blow into the ignition interlock device every time you get into your vehicle.

The purpose of this device is to prevent you from driving under the influence, restricting you from operating your vehicle if you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. It can help reduce the amount of repeat offenses, helping keep you and other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe on Washington roads.

Ignition Interlock Requirements After a DUI

In Washington state, all people who receive a DUI conviction must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Unlike other states, which might require these devices for more severe offenses, all drivers with a DUI receive this penalty, regardless of their BAC or number of past offenses.

The length of time you will have to keep this device on your vehicle will vary from case to case. The average timeframes are one year for a first offense, five years for a second offense, and ten years for third and subsequent offenses.

After a DUI, all vehicles that you drive must have an ignition interlock device installed, with the exception of work vehicles. As long as your employer signs a declaration waiver and you only drive the vehicle during work hours, the state will not install this device.

However, if you have a commercial driver’s license, you do not qualify for the declaration waiver and the state will install an ignition interlock device on your work vehicle. You may also have to obtain a specialized ignition interlock driver’s license to allow you to keep your position and operate your work vehicle.

What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Washington State

The moments after a DUI arrest can be disorienting and scary, especially if this is your first offense. However, it is important to remain calm, comply with the police officers, and follow these tips to aim for the best possible outcome.

  • If the police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer or THC concentration test, it is important to comply with his or her orders. Refusing this test can lead to additional penalties or an increase in existing penalties. If the officer asks you to take a chemical test, take the test.
  • When the officer places you under arrest, he or she will read you your rights. All of these rights are important, but one of the most crucial ones is your right to remain silent. Anything you say could lead to additional penalties against you or decrease your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Do not speak to the officers, plead your case, or say anything that could lead to additional charges. Do not speak to any investigators at the police station without an attorney present.
  • Another important right you have is your right to an attorney. As soon as you are able to, contact your lawyer and ask him or her to meet you at the station. Do not speak to any investigators or officers until your lawyer is present. If the officers continue to interrogate you without allowing you to contact your lawyer, repeatedly ask for your attorney and state that you will not answer any questions until he or she is present.

If you have not done so already, contact a DUI attorney to assist you with your case. Your lawyer can provide a number of benefits while you are navigating the criminal justice system, such as connecting you with resources to build your case and helping you prepare for trial. Before you speak to any police officer or investigator, contact your defense lawyer to discuss your legal options.

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