Ignition Interlock Devices and work vehicles

There are multiple laws that require a person convicted of DUI to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their personal vehicle. There are also situations where a person who has been arrested for DUI, but not yet convicted of DUI, is required to install an IID on their personal vehicle. But what if the person has to drive a vehicle as part of their employment? What if the person drives a taxi for a living or a delivery vehicle? Does the person have to install an IID on their work vehicle or just quit their job?

The short answer to this question is if the person has a prior DUI conviction for DUI, they likely will have to quit their job (or convince their boss to allow them to install an IID on their work vehicle). This is true even if the prior DUI arrest was reduced to a lesser charge (such as Negligent Driving in the First Degree or Reckless Driving).

RCW 10.21.055, which is a relatively new law, requires a judge to order an IID in the situation above at the first court hearing, before the person has even been convicted of DUI. The law does not make any exception for a person’s work vehicle.

Ironically, there is a work vehicle exemption found in the law. RCW 46.20.720 states that once the person is convicted of DUI, and ordered to have an IID, they may be eligible for a work vehicle exemption to the IID requirement. Keep in mind, even if the person is eligible for the work vehicle exemption, they still must have an IID on their personal vehicle. There is also a 30 day (or 365 day) wait period before the person can take advantage of the work vehicle exemption.

Let me demonstrate how nonsensical these statutes are in a real word hypothetical. Lets say DUI Donny gets charged with a DUI as a teenager in the 1970s. In the case, DUI Donny has a BAC under the legal limit of .08 so he ends up having his DUI reduced to Negligent Driving in the First Degree (which is a prior DUI under RCW 10.21.055). Fast forward to 2015, DUI Donny gets stopped again for DUI, and again has a BAC under .08 (lets say .07, and yes people routinely do get charged with DUI even if their BAC is under .08). DUI Donny is employed as a delivery truck driver and is the sole income earner in his family. At DUI Donny’s first court appearance, RCW 10.21.055 requires the court to order DUI Donny to have an IID on all vehicles he drives. It will take DUI Donny several months before his case is resolved (most likely with a reduced charge, based on the below .08 BAC). However, DUI Donny will likely have to quit his job because the law does not allow any exception to the IID requirement for DUI Donny’s delivery truck he drives at work. This means that unless DUI Donny’s employer allows him to install an IID on his work vehicle, he is out of a job.