What are Pennsylvania's ignition interlock laws?

After being convicted for drunk driving, drivers may be required to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

In Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher. Those who are convicted of a DUI offense face many consequences, including the potential requirement to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

This requirement applies to drivers who are convicted of their second or subsequent DUI. When this occurs, drivers must add one of these devices to every one of the vehicles they operate before they can restore their driving privileges.

Recently, Pennsylvania enacted new laws which allow individuals convicted of DUI to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle in order to avoid losing their license or to reduce their license suspension. For example, a driver convicted of a first offense DUI who is facing a one (1) year loss of license, may apply for an ignition interlock license immediately upon receiving notice of suspension from PennDot. A driver convicted of a second offense DUI who faces a 12 or 18 month loss of license, may apply for an ignition interlock license after they have served one-half of their suspension.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a small piece of technology, about the size of a cellphone, that is wired directly into a vehicle's ignition system. Drivers who have one of these devices in their vehicle must blow into it before they can start their car. If the device detects a measurable amount of alcohol in a driver's system, he or she will not be able to start the car.

Available exemptions

There are two exemptions to Pennsylvania's ignition interlock requirements. These include the following:

  1. Employment exemption-Depending on the circumstances, DUI offenders may operate a vehicle used for employment without the use of an ignition interlock device. This can only occur if DUI offenders let their employer know about the requirement to use an ignition interlock device. Those who use this exemption must also have proof of employer notification on a specific PennDOT form on them whenever they are at work.
  2. Financial hardship exemption-Under this exemption, drivers with multiple vehicles may receive permission to only install an ignition interlock in one of their cars if financial constraints are present.

DUI offenders who disobey the ignition interlock requirements set forth by the terms of their sentencing or those who tamper with the device in their vehicle will have their ignition interlock requirement extended for a 12-month period. Those who tamper with the device a second time will lose their driving privileges completely for another 12 months. When their driving privileges are restored, they will then have to use an ignition interlock device for an additional 12 months.

Seek the assistance of an attorney

Those arrested for drunk driving in Pennsylvania have many concerns about the penalties they face, including the potential requirement to use an ignition interlock device. In this situation, drivers should contact an attorney in their area who can help them protect their best interests moving forward.