Pennsylvania amended its Ignition Interlock law effective August 25, 2017. Part of that amendment made the Ignition Interlock (a device that is hooked up to your car that you have to breath into to demonstrate that there is no alcohol in your system in order for your car to operate) available for first-time DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels. Further, it established a new Ignition Interlock Limited License. This new license permits individuals to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an Ignition Interlock device if certain requirements are met. The new license would have a designation on it that says, “Ignition Interlock”.

First, it is important to know what an Ignition Interlock system is. It is a device that is installed on your motor vehicle in order to prohibit an individual from operating it if they have alcohol within their system. Further, the device will prompt the driver at random intervals to breath into it to ensure that the driver still does not have alcohol in their system while the vehicle is being operated. Ignition Interlocks are not free, but they are leased from approved Ignition Interlock vendors. The average costs range from $900-$1,300 per year.

Although Ignition Interlock has been a part of the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) penalty framework for some time in Pennsylvania, what the new law allows is for first-time offenders to opt to use an interlock device while they are serving their mandatory license suspension. Prior to this amendment to the Pennsylvania Interlock Law, first-time offenders who were in the second or third tier, were looking at 12-month license suspension and would have to wait 60-days before they were eligible for an Occupational Limited License.

Under the new law, individuals can be eligible for the Ignition Interlock Limited License as soon as their sentence commences. It is important to note that for second and subsequent DUI’s, there is still a waiting period for the Ignition Interlock device before you are eligible for the Ignition Interlock Limited License. The biggest change is that for first-time offenders, the license is available immediately. Please note that candidates for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD Program) are not eligible for the Ignition Interlock device, and the standard ARD license suspension periods still apply.

This new law is the legislature’s way of recognizing the impact of losing one’s license has on the citizens of Pennsylvania, and balances allowing that person to continue operating their motor vehicle so that they can be a productive member of society while ensuring society’s protection from that individual operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

If you are facing a DUI charge, it is important that you protect your rights and yourself – the lawyers of O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C. are here to help. Please call us at (610) 323-2800. Also, please watch OWM’s August 2018 Legal Talk program regarding Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock on our website here.

— Written by Thomas P. McCabe, Esq.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose. If you are charged with a criminal offense, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Thomas P. McCabe, Esquire is a licensed Pennsylvania lawyer, and does not purport to comment on any other jurisdiction in the United States of America.

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