Ignition Interlock Limited License Law

By Douglas K. Marsico, Esquire

A new Pennsylvania DUI license suspension law goes into effect on August 25, 2017 introduces a new limited license known as an "Ignition Interlock Limited License (IILL)". An ignition interlock limited license is a restricted license that allows the driver to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Under the new law, an individual whose operating privileges are suspended for a DUI conviction or a refusal to submit to chemical testing may obtain an IILL while serving the mandatory license suspension. In creating this new license, the legislature has eliminated the availability of an "occupational limited license" as it pertains to DUI license suspensions.

An individual whose license is suspended for a DUI conviction, and has no prior offenses, may immediately apply to obtain an IILL. For those with a prior DUI offense, an IILL may be obtained as follows:

  1. for those convicted of a ungraded misdemeanor, the IILL may be obtained after six months of the twelve month license suspension;
  2. for those convicted of a first degree misdemeanor, the IILL may be obtained after nine months of the eighteen month license suspension. 75 Pa.C.S. §1556(f)(2).

The new law also provides relief via the IILL for those who have had their license suspended for a refusal. Under the new law, an IILL may be issued after six months of a twelve month suspension as a result of a refusal. Also, an IILL may be issued after nine months of an eighteen month suspension as a result of a refusal. This is a welcomed change, as previously the law did not provide for any type of restricted license for chemical testing refusal related suspensions.

In order to obtain an IILL, the motorist must file a petition with PennDOT showing proof of the installation of the device and proof of insurance. PennDOT is required to then issue the ignition interlock limited license within twenty days of receipt of the application. Therefore, for first time DUI offenders, the motorist may be able to drive a motor vehicle with an interlock device after just twenty days of the initial suspension. Eligibility is predicated upon the motorist having an otherwise valid license and no other unserved license suspensions. The IILL is not available for commercial vehicles or suspensions as a result of convictions for homicide by vehicle or homicide by vehicle while DUI offenses.

It is important to note that the IILL only requires installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle that the motorist will drive—as opposed to all vehicles owned by a motorist as mandated by previous ignition interlock legislation. Furthermore, a motorist with a valid IILL may drive an employer’s owned vehicle within the scope of his employment without the ignition interlock device. It is only required that a PennDOT form acknowledging that the employee has a restricted license is completed by the employer before a notary.

It should be noted that an IILL is not available under the new law for those serving ARD- imposed DUI license suspensions. As a result, it is possible that a person facing a sixty day ARD license suspension may choose to forgo ARD and plead guilty to the DUI. In such a case, while the motorist’s license suspension may be one year, he or she could obtain an IILL within twenty days of sentencing on the DUI. For those who rely on driving a motor vehicle for a living, accepting the longer suspension and a criminal record might be a choice made out of necessity to maintain employment.

The new law also expands the requirement of installing an ignition interlock device as a restoration requirement to include many first offenses. Specifically, the installation of an ignition interlock device is now a condition of restoration for those serving license suspensions for first offense convictions of high rate and highest rate DUIs. Previously, the ignition interlock was only required for those who were convicted of second offenses. The amendments to the law however do afford some relief in requiring that the ignition interlock device only must be installed on any vehicle driven by the motorist. Previously, the law stated that the device had to be installed on all vehicles owned by the motorist.