75 Pa.C.S. § 3805
Pennsylvania’s New Ignition Interlock Law
What Has Changed
Under the old ignition interlock law, a person would receive a one (1) year license suspension for most first-time DUI offenses. Only individuals that had two or more DUIs within the ten (10) year look back period would be eligible or would need an ignition interlock license. In most case before the law changed, individuals convicted of more than one (1) DUI would have their license suspended for one year (or more in some cases) and then be forced to have an ignition interlock for an additional twelve (12) months.
Under the new ignition interlock law, the legislature has made ignition interlock available to most first-time DUI offenders during the one (1) year suspension that accompanies most DUI charges. Therefore, this change in the law will make many more people eligible to receive an ignition interlock system and will allow many people to avoid the one (1) year license suspension.
The new ignition interlock law also shortens the license suspension time for repeat offenders as well. Under the new law, instead of serving a full one (1) year suspension before being eligible for an ignition interlock, now repeat offenders will be eligible for an ignition interlock after six (6) months for most charges. The ignition interlock period of one (1) year remains unchanged.
When is It Effective
Governor Wolfe signed a bill that makes major changes to Pennsylvania’s Ignition Interlock Law. These changes will take effect on August 25, 2017 and anyone who is convicted or enters a guilty plea after that date will be subject to the new law.
How Does the Law Work?
A person can seek an ignition interlock if they violate 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 (Driving Under the Influence), has their operating privileges suspended under 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547 for refusing to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine after being detained for suspicion of driving under the influence, or has their operating privileges suspended under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3808(c) for illegally driving a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock. As a condition of obtaining the ignition interlock, a person must have all the vehicles that they own or are registered to them equipped with the ignition interlock, or if the person does not own or operate any vehicles, the person must submit a certification verifying that fact.
No Ignition Interlock for First Offense DUIs that do not Have License Suspension
A person is not eligible for an ignition interlock if they are subject to the penalties of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804(a)(1) and the person does not have any prior DUI offenses as defined by 75 Pa.C.S. § 3806. What this means is that if a person is subject to the penalties of § 3804(a)(1) they are not eligible for an ignition interlock because their license would not be suspended and therefore, there is no need for an ignition interlock. Additionally, to have no prior DUI offenses as provided by § 3806, an individual must not have had a DUI conviction in the preceding 10 years or a DUI conviction on or after the date that the current DUI offense occurred.
No Ignition Interlock for ARD
A person is also not eligible for an ignition interlock if their license is suspended as a result of placement into ARD. This is because anyone admitted to the ARD program is already receiving a drastically reduced license suspension. Therefore, if you receive ARD for a 3802(b), 3802(c), or 3802(d), you are already receiving the shortest license suspension possible and the legislature did not permit an ignition interlock ARD participants.
As a side note, even though a person is not eligible for an ignition interlock, if they have their license suspended as a result of placement in an ARD program, ARD is still generally the better option because it leads to a much shorter license suspension than a person would otherwise receive and it allows for a limited expungement of the criminal charges.
How to Get an Ignition Interlock
A person must file an application for an ignition interlock restricted license with PennDOT. This license is also sometimes referred to as an “ILL” or “Interlock Limited License.” If the person meets the requirements outlined above, PennDOT should issue them an ignition interlock restricted license. However, a person must still have the ignition interlock installed on their vehicle at their own expense.
Currently, a person will need to turn their driver’s license into the Court when they are sentenced for a DUI conviction or other criminal conviction that is eligible for an ignition interlock restricted license (in some counties, the Court does not immediately collect a suspended license and the person is responsible for timely surrendering their license directly to PennDOT). After this, the person can go to a local DMV (or possibly online after PennDOT updates its website) to get the ignition interlock restricted license application. The application will have a $65.00 fee that must be submitted with it. After submitting the application, PennDOT will review it and issue an approval letter if appropriate. Upon receiving this approval letter, a person can set up an appointment with an approved ignition interlock vendor to have the ignition interlock installed in their vehicles. The ignition interlock vendor will then create a certification showing that the person has complied with the ignition interlock law. The person would then need to send this certification to PennDOT in order to receive their ignition interlock restricted license.
The best way to obtain an ignition interlock would be to hire an attorney that is well versed in the ignition interlock law. Since this law will be applied for the first time after August 25, 2017, there will most likely be some initial confusion and delay that is accompanied by any major change in the law. Having an attorney could help you navigate this process and get a faster resolution to any issues you may encounter.
What if you Do Not Own a Vehicle
If you have no vehicles, you still must have an ignition interlock vendor file a certification to that effect. The ignition interlock vendors will complete a search of DMV records to ensure that no vehicles are owned by or registered to the person seeking the ignition interlock. If that check shows no vehicles owned by or registered to the person seeking the ignition interlock, the vendor will file a certification to that effect with PennDOT. The person would still not be eligible to drive during the ignition interlock period of one (1) year.
Not owning a vehicle is more significant for repeat DUI offenders. If a person has multiple DUIs but does not own a vehicle, they must still go to the ignition interlock vendor and have that company file a certification as described above. But, since the repeat offender does not have a vehicle and cannot benefit from an ignition interlock, the person will simply not be permitted to drive for the ignition interlock period as well as the license suspension period.
Drug DUIs and Ignition Interlock
Individuals that receive drug DUIs are also eligible for the ignition interlock. These ignition interlock devices do not detect controlled substances. However, the Pennsylvania General Assembly thought it was appropriate to allow individuals that were convicted of a drug DUI to benefit from the program as well. This is primarily because the legislature did not want people to lose employment as a result of license suspensions. However, if you are caught driving under the influence of controlled substances during the ignition interlock period, there will be additional penalties as described below in addition to the penalties associated with a subsequent DUI offense.
Ignition interlock prices vary by vendor. However, PennDOT claims that on average, an ignition interlock will cost around $1,000.00. One company that Lampman Law frequently deals with charges an installation fee of $70.00 followed by a monthly fee of $87.00. There is also a removal fee of roughly $70.00. These prices can vary if a person has a push button start vehicle or vehicle that could make installing the ignition interlock more complicated.
If you have no vehicles, you still must have an ignition interlock vendor file a certification to that effect. The ignition interlock vendors will complete a search of DMV records to ensure that no vehicles are owned by or registered to the person seeking the ignition interlock. If that check shows no vehicles owned by or registered to the person seeking the ignition interlock, they will file a certification to that effect with PennDOT. This certification will cost around $53.00 depending upon the vendor.
A person can apply to PennDOT for an exemption to the requirement that an ignition interlock system must be installed in each of the person’s vehicles if they can prove that installing said systems would be an undue financial hardship. If PennDOT approves a hardship exemption, a person would be permitted to install the ignition interlock on only one of his/her vehicles. A person would still be prohibited from driving or otherwise operating any vehicle that does not have the ignition interlock installed on it.
A person may also be able to drive a vehicle at work without an ignition interlock. If a person is required to drive or otherwise operate a motor vehicle during the course and scope of his/her employment, the person may drive or otherwise operate the motor vehicle used during the course of his/her employment without the installation of an ignition interlock if: (1) the employer is notified that the person is restricted to driving vehicles with an ignition interlock; and (2) the employee has proof that the employer has been notified in his/her possession whenever they are driving or in physical control of the work vehicle. PennDOT has created a specific employer acknowledgement form that must have the employer’s notarized signature and a contact telephone number for the employer.
This exception is very limited and would not cover any commute to work. It would only cover any necessary operation of a motor vehicle while you are at work. It also must be an employer owned motor vehicle. If it is an employee owned motor vehicle, it would have to have the ignition interlock installed on it.
This exception also does not apply if (1) the employer owned motor vehicle is available to the person for personal use, (2) if the employer owned motor vehicle is wholly or partially owned by the person holding an ignition interlock restricted license, or (3) if the employer owned motor vehicle is a school bus, school vehicle, or a vehicle designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver.
What Happens During the Interlock Period
During the ignition interlock period, a person must only drive a vehicle with the ignition interlock installed on it, unless some applicable exemption applies. The person also must get their ignition interlock serviced, normally on a monthly basis, by the vendor of the ignition interlock. During this inspection, the ignition interlock company certifies that the ignition interlock is working properly and that it is installed on every vehicle that is owned by or registered to the person holding the ILL license. If a person’s vehicle is in noncompliance, or it is discovered that the person has another vehicle without an ignition interlock registered to or owned by him/her, the provider will inform PennDOT of the noncompliance and the ignition interlock restricted license will be recalled.
Criminal Charges for Misconduct During Ignition Interlock Period
During the period the ignition interlock is installed on your vehicles, you may not own, register, drive, operate, or otherwise be in actual physical control of the movement of any motor vehicle unless that motor vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock.
75 Pa.C.S. § 3808 makes it a crime to drive or otherwise operate a vehicle without an ignition interlock if a person is required to have an ignition interlock on his/her vehicle. If a person is convicted under § 3808, the offense is graded as a misdemeanor, the person must pay a fine between $100 and $1,000, and undergo imprisonment of not more than 90 days. If a person is under the influence while operating a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock restricted license and the vehicle is not equipped with an ignition interlock the penalties are much greater. In this case, the person commits a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree, must pay a fine of $1000, and must undergo imprisonment of not less than 90 days.
75 Pa.C.S. § 3808(b) also makes it a crime to tamper with an ignition interlock system. If a person tampers with an ignition interlock system, they commit a misdemeanor, must pay a fine between $300 and $1,000, and must undergo imprisonment of not more than 90 days. Tampering includes not only physical tampering to prevent the system from working properly, but also includes having another individual blow into the ignition interlock system in an attempt to subvert the purpose of the interlock system.
A person will also get further driver’s license consequences if they commit any of the above crimes. For a first offense, the person will not be eligible for an unrestricted driver’s license until one year from the conviction on one of the above criminal charges. For a second offense during the same ignition interlock period, a person will have his/her operating privileges suspended for one year. Following completion of that one year suspension, the person will then have to comply with the ignition interlock program again.
Additionally, if PennDOT receives a certified record that a person is convicted of any offense that has a penalty resulting in cancellation, disqualification, recall, suspension, or revocation of operating privileges, he/she will have their ignition interlock limited license recalled. The person must then surrender his/her ignition interlock restricted license to PennDOT. After the cancellation, disqualification, recall, suspension, or revocation is completed, PennDOT will require the person to complete the remaining balance of their ignition interlock limited license that was previously imposed. Notably, the ignition interlock period does not run while you are under cancellation, disqualification, recall, suspension, or revocation.
After the Ignition Interlock Period is Complete
One year after the ignition interlock restricted license is issued, a person may be issued a replacement unrestricted license if they are otherwise eligible and have complied with all of the requirements of the ignition interlock law. The person must submit proof that he/she has completed the ignition interlock restricted license period and provide a certification from the ignition interlock vendor that the person has completed the interlock period to PennDOT. Until PennDOT issues an unrestricted license, a person is not permitted to own, register, drive, operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle unless the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock.
Additionally, everyone must comply with all of the terms of the ignition interlock law prior to having his/her driver’s license restored without restrictions.