In 2001, Pennsylvania passed a law requiring that any repeat DUI offender must have a device placed on their car after their regular term of license suspension is over. An example: a person is convicted of their second DUI offense within 10 years and their blood alcohol level was a .14. This is a “middle tier” DUI and, as such, that person will have the Pa. drivers license suspended for 18 months and, after that is over, they must apply for a special “restricted license” and have an “ignition interlock device” installed in their car for 12 months.The is a total of 2 1/2 years of Penndot licensing supervision.
Ok. That is the penalty, now here is what the “ignition interlock” is: Its a machine that you have to pay someone “approved by PennDot” to put in your car – each car you own. You have to breath into it if you want your car to start. You even have to breath into it while you are driving or the car will shut down. All to ensure that the driver has not consumed alcohol. Yes, its overkill and some would opine that its just a money making racket. Pennsylvania suspended license lawyers, of which I am one, fight it every day so you’ll get no argument from me that the law is in place, in large part, to generate revenue.
Is there a loophole? Kinda. There are two. The first one is the “hardship exception”. If you can show PennDot that you cannot afford to have an interlock installed on all your vehicles, they will allow you to put on just one. This is a big savings in money for some drivers. Be warned though that the driver can only driver that vehicle that is fitted with the device. The second one is the “employment exemption”. This is when, upon application to PennDot, the driver can operate an employer’s vehicle IF 1) the employer has been notified that the driver is restricted; and 2) the employee has proof of the notification in their possession (notarized of course); and 3) the vehicle is to be used in the course of driver’s employment only.
I have been a Pa. and Montgomery County dui lawyer for 20 years. There is relief to be had in the ignition interlock area. Personally, I believe it is just too burdensome for some drivers and I do my best to help them. If you or a loved one find themselves in a position where you have to equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock, contact an ignition interlock lawyer so you may be apprised of your rights an obligations.