When a person in Pennsylvania is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, they could find their world has been turned upside down. They may have to spend time in jail, pay fines and attend alcohol safety education. Also, they may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. This device prevents a vehicle from starting if a breath test indicates the driver’s blood alcohol content level is too high.
It used to be the case that if a motorist was convicted of a second or subsequent DUI, they could choose to serve an additional 12-month suspension of their driver’s license instead of having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. However, that law changed in 2003, and this choice is no longer available. Under current law, motorists must place an interlock ignition device on all their vehicles when required to do so due to a drunk driving conviction. Their driving privileges will not be restored until this is done.
However, there are some exemptions to this general ignition interlock device law. First, there is the financial hardship exemption. Under this exemption, if approved, a person would only be required to install an ignition interlock device on a single vehicle, rather than all of their vehicles. Another exemption is the employment exemption. Sometimes a person who is required to have an ignition interlock device placed on their vehicles drives a vehicle owned by their employer as part of their job. Under this exemption, the person need not have an ignition interlock device placed on that vehicle, so long as it is only used in the course and scope of the person’s job duties. This exemption does not apply to those who drive large passenger vehicles, including school buses.
So, while a person convicted of DUI may face the possibility of having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles, there are exemptions that would reduce the impact of this penalty. Many people have to drive as part of a living, and simply to get by in their daily lives. After all, unless a person lives in a major city with a reliable public transportation system, driving is a basic necessity. Therefore, any DUI defenses they could wage are important. Sometimes a person is able to avoid a conviction altogether. However, even if they are convicted of DUI, there are ways to reduce the penalties they may face, including any ignition interlock requirements.