This law is a significant game-changer for those facing long driver license suspension. For those convicted of DUI and facing a possible 1 year license suspension, the new program could allow them to drive almost immediately

My friend, colleague, and fellow veteran, and Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney Paul Lang provides an excellent guest blog on PA's newest DUI law.  On August 25, 2017, most substantive portions of the Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Limited License Program “IILL” (Senate Bill 290, signed into law on May 23, 2016) will take effect.  

How the Law Changes Mandaotry DUI License Suspension in the Commonwealth 

For criminal law practitioners, this bill eliminates the potential for an “Occupational Limited License” (OLL) and replaces it with the ignition interlock limited license.  An ignition interlock limited license is a restricted license that permits the driver to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an approved ignition interlock device. Come August 25, 2017, 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.

This law is a significant game-changer and an overall welcome addition for defendants as it lessens the impact of a suspension (though it will not be cheap).  

What is the Ignition Interlock Device (IIL)

 It is a device installed into motor vehicles to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle.  You provide a deep breath sample to the device before starting the vehicle.  The threshold for the vehicle to allow you to start is very low at .025 BAC (not .08 like a DUI).  It is estimated that the installation fee will be upwards of $150 and monthly maintenance fees will be $60-$80.  

How much will the IILL Program reduce a license suspension?

For first offense DUI’s, a person is presumed eligible immediately.  Realistically, there is a minimum of a 20-day wait while PennDOT reviews the application.  Further below, you will see why I believe you will have to wait longer than 20 days.  

If you have a prior DUI, an IILL may be received:

  • for those convicted of an ungraded misdemeanor, the IILL may be obtained after six months of the twelve month license suspension;

  • 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).

Procedures

PennDOT claims that they will mail  the individual the IILL application with restoration letters.  As someone who has practiced long enough to know, PennDOT is less than reliable on all matters.  Thus, people who think they are eligible should contact PennDOT directly for the application or go here for a copy.  The law requires that the submission be sent by certified mail and that proof of financial responsibility (insurance) be provided for any vehicle where the individual will operate and where an interlock ignition will be installed.  There is a $65 application fee.  You don’t have to get the ignition interlock device installed for vehicles that you will not operate.  

 

“Refusals”

Many citizens don’t realize the significant civil penalty PennDOT places on individuals who “refuse” chemical testing.  If there is a refusal, a person faces a 1-year license suspension as a civil remedy under the “implied consent” statute.  If a person is serving a “refusal” suspension of 1-year, the new law provides them some relief.   If a person is serving a 12-month suspension, they will have to serve 6 months before receiving the IILL.  If they have an 18-month suspension, they will have to serve 9 months. Ineligibility

 

Who is not elgibile for the program?

 

A person is ineligible for an IILL if he/she:

  • Was not previously licensed to drive in PA or any other state.

  • Is still required to take a driver’s examination.

  • Has driving privileges already cancelled, revoked or recalled.

  • Has an unsatisfied judgment as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

  • Intends to use IILL for operating a commercial vehicle (this will be the most likely applicable ineligibility for most individuals.

  • Has a license suspension because of a Homicide by Vehicle Conviction.

 

Employment Exemption

Mercifully, the legislature agreed not to penalize an employer if they need a person who is eligible under the act for an IILL to drive (non-CDL driver).  Meaning, an employer will have to fill out PENNDOT DL-3805 form (Ignition Interlock Employment Exemption Affidavit), but will not have to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.  

 

Timeline

The statute states “...if the applicant is qualified, the department shall issue an ignition interlock limited license within 20 days of receipt of the petition and all other requirements for issuance (emphasis added).”  So, effectively, you will have to wait a minimum of 20 days.  Critically, however, it is 20 days “of receipt” so it may be longer.  Just remember -- don’t start driving until you have the IILL in your hand.  As a practical matter, you are going to want to get everything set up for the application, including the installation.  So, before your trial date, make sure that gets done. You will also want to surrender your license at the courthouse that day.  Some courts, like Buck County for ARD’s, does not collect licenses on the day you are in court.  They make you wait for PennDOT to send you a letter.   There are ways around this but you should ask your attorney.  

 

Hey, What About ARD?  

 

A ton of criminal blogs, including my own, previously stated that people on ARD were not entitled to the IILL.  We were not wrong.  When you get state legislators in a room where they and their staffers are more concerned about re-election and driving back from Harrisburg, they never consult the experts (prosecutors or PACDL).  If they had, the biggest issue in the drafting of the legislation last year was that there was no mention of ARD, which lead legal minds to conclude that the absence of mentioning ARD meant its exclusion.  Well, word must have circulated to the powers above, as Senate Bill 553 from August 2017 addresses ARD:  

 

AN INDIVIDUAL WHOSE LICENSE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED UNDER SECTION 3807(D) (RELATING TO ACCELERATED REHABILITATIVE DISPOSITION) SHALL BE ELIGIBLE, BUT NOT REQUIRED, TO APPLY FOR AND, IF OTHERWISE QUALIFIED, BE ISSUED AN IGNITION INTERLOCK LIMITED LICENSE UNDER THIS SECTION FOR THE DURATION OF THE SUSPENSION.   

 

Fortunately, this was effective immediately.  So, you can save some time off your suspension if you get ARD.  Again -- remember the practical tip -- you are going to have to tell your lawyer you need to surrender your license the day of court (or your lawyer should be smart enough to have already discussed this with you).  Given the practical delay of getting an IILL that I previously mentioned, it probably does not make sense to try and get one for a middle-tier/30 day ARD suspension since it will be costly and you would only have a theoretical 10 days of the IILL.  Since I think the entire turnaround will be 30+ days, it does not make sense.  


ARD & Refusals - If I get ARD and I refused chemical testing, what does that mean?  

Under the “old” law, a person who refused and received ARD would be facing the ARD suspension (many jurisdictions, like Bucks County, still make you do 60 days on a refusal ARD) plus 1 year for the civil refusal.  A person could apply for the Occupational Limited License after 60 days of the ARD suspension.  So they would have to “walk off” the ARD suspension before addressing the refusal suspension.  


 Now, it’s more confusing.  Can a person under the same scenario do their 20 days of suspension (the waiting period for PennDOT turnaround) for the ARD, have the ignition interlock, then after the 60 days (on a presumed highest tier case), remove the ignition interlock and wait until they’ve done 6 months to then be eligible again for the IILL for the refusal section?  It’s convoluted and will hopefully be fleshed out asap by the legislators and PennDOT.
 

Summary Cheat Sheet for Defendants and Lawyers

  Lowest Tier DUI Offenses – General Impairment DUI and BAC of .08-.099%
 
  • 1st Offense: No license suspension.

  • 2nd Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

  • 3rd or Subsequent Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

 

Middle Tier Offenses – DUI for Minors with BAC of .02%, BAC of .10-.159% and General Impairment DUI with Accident Causing Injury or Property Damage (the “accident enhancement”)

 
  • 1st Offense: 12 month suspension with immediate eligibility for IILL

  • 2nd Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

  • 3rd or Subsequent Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

 

Highest Tier Offenses – DUI with .16% BAC or Higher, DUI with Drugs, and DUI Refusal of Blood or Breath Test But Drugs (D2)

 
  • Highest Tier – 1st Offense (BAC of .16% or higher): 12 month suspension with immediate eligibility for IILL

  • Highest Tier – 2nd Offense (BAC of .16% or higher): 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

  • Highest Tier – 3rd Offense (BAC of .16% or higher): 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

 

Refusals

  • Chemical Test Refusal – 1st Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

  • DUI Chemical Test Refusal – 2nd Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

  • DUI Chemical Test Refusal – 3rd or Subsequent Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

1 Comments
My license was suspended June 13th for 12 months for dui. Would these new laws be retroactive at all? Or do they only apply to duis after August 25th?
by Kat August 11, 2017 at 10:01 AM
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