What is the new Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Law?

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The recent change in the DUI law does two essential things. First, it requires most convicted, first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicles. Second, it allows DUI offenders to regain their driving privileges without serving their full license suspension through the issuance of Ignition Interlock Limited Licenses.

What is an Ignition Interlock?

An Ignition Interlock system is a device that is installed in a motor vehicle to prohibit an individual under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. An individual is required to blow into the device before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. In addition, at periodic times during the operation of the vehicle, the individual will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence. An Ignition Interlock system is leased from the Ignition Interlock vendor. Currently, the average costs associated with leasing an Ignition Interlock system is between $900 to $1,300 per year.

What is a Ignition Interlock License?

Thirty days prior to an individual’s restoration eligibility date, PennDOT will mail them a restoration requirements letter. The letter will include an application for an Ignition Interlock License and information on how to contact an Ignition Interlock vendor. An Ignition Interlock License permits an individual to only operate a motor vehicle equipped with an Ignition Interlock system. The fee for an Ignition Interlock License varies. An Ignition Interlock License displays a red banner behind the word “Pennsylvania”, the words “LIMITED LICENSE” towards the top of the license, and the words “IGNITION INTERLOCK” in the yellow map of Pennsylvania. From the date the Ignition Interlock License is issued to the time an unrestricted driver’s license is issued, an individual may not drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of the movement of any motor vehicle which is not equipped with an Ignition Interlock system.

Who is Eligible for an Ignition Interlock Limited License?

You are ELIGIBLE for an ILL if:

  • You are suspended/revoked for a DUI offense in Pennsylvania, or a similar offense (DUI) in another state; or You are suspended/revoked for refusing a chemical test; and 
  • You must present proof to PennDOT that any vehicle that will be operated by you is equipped with an approved ignition interlock system.

You are INELIGIBLE for an ILL if:

  •  You were not previously licensed in a state;
  • You are required to take a driving examination;
  • You have your driving privilege cancelled/recalled.        
  • You have a outstanding judgment resulting from a motor vehicle accident;
  • You are applying for an IILL to operate a commercial vehicle;
  • You are are disqualified under the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act or the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act; or
  • You were convicted Homicide by Vehicle or Homicide by Vehicle While DUI, and the suspension for which you are applying for the ILL occurs as a result.

How Long Must I Wait to Qualify for an Ignition Interlock Limited License?

General Tier DUI – General Impairment DUI or BAC of .08-.099%

  • 1st DUI: There is no license suspension and no ignition interlock requirement
  • 2nd DUI: There is a 12 month license suspension, of which you must serve 6    months suspension before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.
  • 3rd or Subsequent DUI: There is a 12 month suspension, of which you must serve 9  months suspension before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.

High Tier DUI – DUI for Minors with BAC of .02%, BAC of .10-.159% or General Impairment DUI with Accident Causing Injury or Property Damage

  • 1st DUI: There is a 12 month suspension and immediate eligibility for ignition interlock limited license.
  • 2nd DUI: There is a 12 month suspension imposed, of which you must serve 6 months suspension before you may obtain a ignition interlock limited license.
  • 3rd or Subsequent DUI: There is a 18 month suspension imposed, of which you must serve 9 months suspension before before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.

Highest Tier DUI – DUI with .16% BAC or Higher, DUI with Drugs, or DUI Refusal of Blood or Breath Test

  • Highest Tier/1st DUI (BAC of .16% or higher): There is a 12 month suspension and immediate eligibility for IILL
  • Highest Tier/2nd DUI (BAC of .16% or higher): There is a 18 month suspension,  of which you must serve 9 months suspension before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.
  •  Highest Tier/3rd DUI (BAC of .16% or higher): There is a 18 month suspension, of which you must serve 9 months suspension before you may obtain a ignition interlock limited license.
  • Chemical Test Refusal/1st DUI: There is a 12 month suspension, of which you must serve 6 months suspension before you may qualify for an ignition interlock limited license.
  •  DUI Chemical Test Refusal/2nd DUI: There is a 18 month suspension, of which you must serve 9 months suspension before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.
  • DUI Chemical Test Refusal/3rd or Subsequent DUI: There is a 18 month suspension, of which you must serve 9 months suspension before you may obtain an ignition interlock limited license.

Can I Obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited License if I’m on ARD?

ARD participants do not qualify for an Ignition Interlock Limited License, and will have to serve any license suspension that results in their case being disposed of via ARD. ARD defendants, however, (if they successfully complete ARD) have their charges dismissed and do not have to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.

How Do I Apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited License?

A petition is required to be filed via certified mail with PennDOT.  Along with the petition proof of the interlock system installation for the vehicles that the petitioner will drive is required. The petitioner must also:

  •  surrender driver’s license;
  •  provide proof of insurance; and
  •  pay a fee of $65.

PennDOT has up to 20 days to approve or deny the petition. 

Getting Back Your Unrestricted Driver’s License

At the end ignition interlock limited license period, the vendor who installed your device will have to certify to PennDOT the following in order or you to obtain your unrestricted driver’s license:

  •  that you have not attempted to start the vehicle with a positive BAC reading of above .08%,
  • that you have not taken or passed a re-test, and/or
  • that you have not missed a required repair or inspection appointment within the last 2 months.

If you fail any of the above conditions your interlock requirements will be extended.