What is the law?
The 1998 United States Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century reauthorized highway funding and enabled states to receive increased federal funds by passing certain types of laws. These state laws had to comply with the federal repeat offender law that included second or subsequent Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders, and had as a minimum penalty impoundment or immobilization of a motor vehicle or the installation of an ignition interlock device on the motor vehicle.
On June 22, 2000 Pennsylvania complied and enacted Act 63, the Ignition Interlock law. On September 30, 2000, Act 63 went into effect in Pennsylvania. Act 63 stated that offenders who were convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense should have all their owned motor vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock system for one year following a twelve (12) month “hard suspension” of their driving privileges. (The term “hard suspension” means that a convicted offender was not permitted to drive under any circumstance and there was no limited or conditional license issued.) If the convicted offender “opted out” or chose not to have an ignition interlock system installed, there would be a second year or twelve more months imposed on the suspension of that offender’s driving privileges.
Subsequently, the federal government ruled that Pennsylvania’s Act 63 “opt out” clause did not comply with the federal repeat offender law as it pertained to ignition interlock. On September 30, 2003, Act 63 was repealed with the enactment of Act 24, the new comprehensive drunk driving law.
Act 24, Chapter 38, Section 3805 changed and clarified the ignition interlock Law by placing the administration and supervision of ignition interlock with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT). The law requires an individual convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense, regardless of the date the offense occurred, to have an approved ignition interlock installed on each motor vehicle they own, operate, or lease for one year before they are eligible to apply for an unrestricted driver’s license. In addition, the law has provisions for economic hardship and employment exemptions.
What is the Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Program?
In response to the passage of Act 63 of 2000, PENNDOT developed specifications for the manufacturers and service providers of ignition interlocks that were to be used in the Commonwealth. Although for several years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had guidelines for ignition interlock, these PENNDOT specifications allow only devices which contain electro-chemical fuel cell sensor technology, which is specific to the detection of alcohol, be approved for use in Pennsylvania. These PENNDOT specifications also address device manufacturers and service providers and describe and define approval processes; required device functions, device testing procedures; device installation, monitoring, servicing and removal processes; record keeping; and the necessary reporting to PENNDOT or its designee.
In January of 2002 PENNDOT awarded a contract to the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association (PA DUI) for the Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Quality Assurance Program. The program oversees the quality assurance aspect of the ignition interlocks approved and used in Pennsylvania, provides technical assistance to manufacturers, service providers and ignition interlock users; and ensures that ignition interlock manufacturers and service providers adhere to the PENNDOT specifications.
What is an Ignition Interlock?
An Ignition interlock is a device that is installed into motor vehicles to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Individuals are 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 random times during the operation of the vehicle, the driver will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence.
How does it work?
Start-Up: To start their vehicles, drivers are required to blow a sample of alveolar (deep lung) breath into the device before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol at a level greater than or equal to .025 percent Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC), the device will prevent the vehicle from starting; and will enter into a period of lockout. A lockout is a period of time that the device shall not allow for an additional breath test attempt to start the vehicle. A lockout period for an initial high breath test is five (5) minutes. If the driver’s BrAC remains too high upon completion of a second breath test, the next and all subsequent lockout periods will be thirty (30) minutes.
1. Rolling Retest Feature: In addition to passing a breath test to start the vehicle, at periodic times during the operation of the vehicle, the device will prompt the driver to provide a breath test to ensure that the driver is not under the influence of alcohol. From the time the device prompts the driver that a test is needed, the driver of the vehicle has six (6) minutes to actually administering the breath test.
To prevent potential hazardous situations for the driver of a vehicle equipped with ignition interlock or for other motorist sharing the roadways, no ignition interlock device approved for use in Pennsylvania will automatically shut off the engine of the vehicle for the driver’s failure to respond to a rolling retest.
Early Recall: Early recall is a condition that requires the driver of the vehicle to return the vehicle to an ignition interlock installation service center for unscheduled service. Program violations which result in an early recall are:
A. 3 BrAC over .025
B. One (1) rolling retest violation
C. One (1) event of tampering with the ignition interlock device
D. Any other violation of restrictions placed upon the ignition interlock program participant by the local judicial authority
When the early recall is initiated, a program participant will have five (5) days to return the vehicle to the installation service center for service. If the vehicle is returned to the installation service center, the participant will incur additional program costs. Failure to return within this allotted time will cause the device to enter into a five (5) day grace period countdown. If the grace period countdown is exceeded, the vehicle will enter into a permanent lockout condition. Permanent lockouts result in the vehicle being towed to the installation service center. The costs incurred for towing are the responsibility of the program participant and are in addition to the costs for the unscheduled service.
Monitoring: Program participants not experiencing device problems or committing program violations must report for monitoring service calls to the installation service center. The first monitoring service call is scheduled for thirty (30) days after the initial installation of the device. Subsequent monitoring service calls are then scheduled for every sixty (60) days for the duration of the program. During these monitoring service calls, installation service center technicians check the vehicle and the device for evidence of tampering; recalibrate the device to ensure that it is receiving and recording accurate BrAC’s; download and review the device’s data log which records all activity that has occurred while in the vehicle and with the device; and addresses any problems the participant may have using the device.
How do you apply for an Ignition Interlock License?
Thirty days prior to an individual’s eligibility for driver’s license restoration, PennDOT’s Bureau of Driver Licensing notifies offenders by mailing to them a Restoration Requirement Letter. This letter includes instructions for the application process, an application for the Ignition Interlock License and the list of ignition interlock service providers. The offender must then complete all obligations and restoration requirements listed in the instructions and complete and immediately return the license application with the required fees to the Bureau of Driver Licensing, even if the individual does not own a vehicle.
Under Act 24, Chapter 38, Section 3805, if the individual’s second or subsequent DUI offense occurred on or after September 30, 2003, the offender must choose an ignition interlock service provider from the enclosed list, contact the service provider and schedule an appointment for installation of the ignition interlock. Once this has been done, the individual must accurately complete the DL 21SC form (Self-Certification of Vehicle(s) Owned/Operated) listing all motor vehicles owned, registered or leased in their name. (This form is available at www.dmv.state.pa.us. Once at the website, go to Motor Vehicle Services, select Forms and then the specific numbered form.)
The individual must provide the service provider with the Restoration Requirement Letter, the completed DL 21SC form, proof of vehicle(s) insurance and the vehicle(s) registration. Individuals should check with their selected service provider for specific instructions. Also, the individual’s driving privileges have not yet been restored until the Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s License has been issued and received by the individual, so transportation should be arranged to the installation appointment.
When the vehicle verification and installation of the ignition interlock are completed, the service provider will send the DL 21SC form and the installation certification to the PENNDOT. If the individual has met all restoration requirements as described in the Restoration Requirement Letter, PENNDOT will restore the individual’s driving privileges and issue the Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s License.
The ignition interlock must remain on individual’s vehicle(s) for twelve (12) months from the issue date on the Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s license. Individuals issued an Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s license may only operate a vehicle equipped with an interlock device until they are issued an unrestricted license.
What Is An Employment Exemption?
Individuals who are issued an ignition interlock restricted driver’s license and are required to drive employer-owned vehicles for employment purposes, may have their employer(s) complete PENNDOT DL-3805 form (Ignition Interlock Employment Exemption Affidavit). (This form is available at www.dmv.state.pa.us. Once at the website, go to Motor Vehicle Services, select Forms and then the specific numbered form.)
This exemption is valid for employment purposes only. It cannot be used to drive a school bus, school vehicle, or a vehicle designed to transport more than 15 passengers; an employer-owned motor vehicle by an entity which is wholly or partially owned by the person holding the Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver’s License; or a employer-owned vehicle which is made available to the employee for personal use.
The form must be completed in its entirety and be in the driver’s possession while operating an employer-owned vehicle(s) not equipped with an ignition interlock device. Failure to posses this form will result in the individual being cited for driving without an ignition interlock.
What Is A Hardship Exemption?
Individuals who are required to install an ignition interlock on all owned, registered or leased vehicles in their name may apply to PENNDOT for an economic hardship exemption. For individuals who qualify for the exemption, they are only required to install an ignition interlock on one of their motor vehicles. Individuals should check with their ignition interlock service provider for further instructions.
This exemption is based on a person’s income level. To qualify, the individual’s adjusted gross income must be below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
How Do You Get An Unrestricted License?
From the date the Ignition Interlock Restricted License is issued until the individual is issued and receives an unrestricted license, they may not own, register, drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of any motor vehicle which is not equipped with an ignition interlock.
Thirty (30) days prior to being eligible to receive unrestricted driving privileges, PENNDOT will mail the individual an application to apply for an unrestricted license. The application should be completed and sent to PENNDOT with the appropriate fees. Once individuals possess the unrestricted license, the service provider may remove the ignition interlock from the vehicle.
What Are The Penalties Involved With Ignition Interlock?
Act 24, Chapter 38, Section 3808 provides the following:
Illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock
1. An individual driving without an ignition interlock commits a misdemeanor offense and upon conviction shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1000 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days.
2. An individual driving without an ignition interlock and has a .025 BrAC at the time of testing and/or has a controlled substance in the blood commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and upon conviction shall be sentenced to pay a fine of $1000 and imprisonment for not less than 90 days.
Tampering with an ignition interlock system – An individual tampering with an ignition interlock system commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and upon conviction shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1000 and to undergo imprisonment for not more than 90 days. “The term “tampering” in addition to any physical act which is intended to alter or interfere with the proper functioning of an ignition interlock system required by law shall include attempting to circumvent or bypass or circumventing or bypassing an ignition interlock system by using another individual to provide a breath sample, providing a breath sample for the purpose of bypassing an ignition interlock system required by law.”
What Is New With Ignition Interlock?
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Ignition Interlock News
Who Do You Contact for Customer Satisfaction Or Problem Resolution?
If you have any other questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Quality Assurance Program at:
PA DUI Association
2413 North Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 238-6211 fax
Ricky Miller, Technician
Russell W. Young, III, Technician
Ryan Greathouse, Technician
Blair Walborn, Technician