When Am I Eligible To Get An Interlock Installed?

This post talks about the date you are eligible for an interlock for a second offense DUI. PennDOT's letters and communications in this area are unbelievably bad, and they frequently confuse and upset my clients. I've answered this specific question two times in the last two weeks in different forms, so I am sure others have the same concerns.

Here is the example I am going to use:

  • Defendant Jones pleads guilty on June 1, 2020 to a second offense DUI that is Tier 3 (maybe for marijuana or alcohol that is over .16).
  • PennDOT suspends Jones' license 42 days later, on July 13
  • Jones is suspended for 18 months, until January 13, 2022
  • At the end of that 18 months,┬áJones is required to have an interlock for 12 months
  • Jones gets her regular license back with no interlock requirement on January 13, 2023

The wrinkle here is that Pennsylvania has a program allowing defendants to get an interlock installed early. In the case of Jones, she is eligible to get an "Early Ignition Interlock Limited License" following nine months of suspension time.

In the example above, her suspension starts on July 13, 2020. Nine months later, she can apply to PennDOT to get an Ignition Interlock Limited License. That means she can apply on April 13, 2021. She does not have to wait until January 13, 2022 as described in the example where she waits out the full 18 months of her DUI suspension.

When drivers get their letter from PennDOT called a "Restoration Requirements Letter" PennDOT does not include the early interlock eligibility date. This causes a lot of upset and confusion. It is my belief that a better practice would be to include a section in that letter to educate drivers about the availability of the early interlock process.

A final wrinkle to this is that a driver convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania must have an interlock installed for 12 months before being able to get a regular, normal driver's license. The early interlock program allows drivers to get an interlock license 9 months early and that 9 month period counts toward the 12 months of mandatory interlock before getting the regular license back.

The same example from above for Defendant Jones looks like this if she gets an early interlock:

  • Defendant Jones pleads guilty on June 1, 2020 to a second offense DUI that is Tier 3 (maybe for marijuana or alcohol that is over .16).
  • PennDOT suspends Jones' license 42 days later, on July 13
  • Jones is suspended for 18 months, until January 13, 2022
  • Jones knows she is eligible for an early interlock after 9 months on April 13, 2021. She applies for one and gets it.
  • Jones drives with the interlock installed for 12 months until April 13, 2022, which is nearly a year earlier than the January 13, 2023 date in my first example at the top of this page. She gets her regular license back 9 months earlier.

There are many wrinkles to the Ignition Interlock Limited License that we are all still working through as lawyers, drivers, court staff, and PennDOT. I will keep writing about them here as I learn about them and how they are affecting my clients and others.

If you have a question about ignition interlock, you can contact my office at (717) 848-8455. I am not a "free help" line -- I have bills to pay and my time is valuable.

If you are one of my clients, this is information we will cover as I help you with your case. If you are not my client, I will bill at my hourly rate for interlock questions. In any case, I hope you've found this article to be helpful in navigating what can be a pretty complicated process.

  • Joseph Gothie
    published this page in DUI Blog 2020-12-21 14:37:51 -0500

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