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What happens if I have an ignition interlock device installed and I get a positive reading?

Posted by Raymond Ejarque | Jul 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Ignition Interlock device is designed to inform the manufacturer of your violations. Once the device has been installed, you are required to blow/hum into it to start your vehicle. Additionally, the device is designed to require you or the driver of the vehicle to submit to a retest within ten minutes of starting the vehicle and again at intervals after the first retest.

Generally, you should be allowed to make about five attempts to retest, allowing for possible interferences to be resolved. Rinse your mouth to be sure that there is nothing lingering (i.e. mouthwash or medications with traces of alcohol) that could be affecting your reading.

If you continue to retest and you fail to start the car after five tries, the vehicle will notify peace officers by honking for a prolonged period of time, flashing the vehicle's lights, or possibly emitting the sound of a siren. Under WAC 204-50-110 (8), if the retest is not performed or if the driver has retested at a level higher than .025 BAC, “the device shall automatically enter a violation reset condition” and then must be serviced within five days or the vehicle will cease functioning. Generally the manufacturer will also require that you pay a fee or a fine. We have seen estimates of at least $50.00 for reset fees. At this point the manufacturer must notify the court within five days of servicing the vehicle and notifying the Department of Licensing if the Department of Licensing so requires.

It is important that you realize that when your device is being examined for correct calibration, all the data will be retained by the manufacturer. At this point, “Any evidence of noncompliance, violations, or signs of tampering or circumvention shall be reported” to the originating court and/or DOL (WAC 204-50-080 (2)). This information is also retained by the manufacturer for two years after the device is removed. This means that even if your vehicle did not require you to brig it in immediately within the five year period, you are not out of the realm of possibility that you will still be help accountable for a violation.

Be aware that violations can be caused by other factors and any of these will also require that you have your device rest:

1. Allowing your horn to honk for more than four minutes (This occurs if you leave your vehicle running unattended, you ignore the retest while the vehicle is running, or you do not pass a retest after 5 attempts while the key is on.)

2. Hot-wiring the vehicle without passing the test.

3. Tampering with the unit. (Be aware that under RCW 46.20.750 (1) tampering with an ignition interlock device or authorizing another individual to tamper with the device is a gross misdemeanor. Furthermore, under RCW 46.20.750 (2) someone who knowingly assists you to tamper with your device or to operate a vehicle in violation of a court order will also be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.)

About the Author

Raymond Ejarque

Raymond Ejarque has practiced law since his admission to the Washington State Bar in June of 1994. He started his career in public interest law helping migrant farm workers and indigents in Texas and Washington State.  Later he worked in Criminal defense as a public defender in Seattle for many y...


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