Ignition Interlock “The Law” Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Ignition Interlock Law?
Pennsylvania enacted the Ignition Interlock Law in an effort to improve highway safety, reduce repeat driving under the influence offenses, and decrease highway crashes and fatalities.
Under the law, an individual convicted of a second or subsequent offense of driving under the influence is required to have an ignition interlock system installed on EACH motor vehicle they own, operate, or lease for one year. Individuals are not eligible for ignition interlock until a suspension of at least one year has been served.
2. When is Ignition Interlock required?
Although the individual’s second or subsequent offense for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) may have occurred prior to the enactment of the new law, if they were convicted on or after October 1, 2003, they must comply with the ignition interlock requirement.
3. Is there a time limit in considering prior DUI offenses?
It depends on when the second or subsequent DUI offense occurred. If the second or subsequent DUI offense occurred prior to 6/30/07, any prior DUI offense will result in ignition interlock being required. If the DUI offense occurred on or after 6/30/07, only DUI offenses that occurred during the previous ten years will be considered for Ignition Interlock purposes.
4. Are accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD), consent decree and adjudication of delinquency positions counted as prior offenses?
About the Ignition Interlock System
5. What is Ignition Interlock?
Ignition interlock is a device that is installed on motor vehicles to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Individuals are required to blow into the device before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. In addition, at periodic times during the operation of the vehicle, the driver will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence.
6. How much does the Ignition Interlock System cost?
Cost may vary depending on the provider chosen. All systems are leased from the vendor to the individual at an approximate cost of $1,000 per system. The individual required to have the ignition interlock system will bear the costs.
7. How long must the ignition interlock system be on the vehicle?
An individual will be required to drive with the ignition interlock system for one year from date of restoration. However, if the person is convicted of a 3808(a) or 3808(b) violation and it’s their first offense their ignition interlock period will be extended 1 year from the date of conviction.
8. Who approves the ignition interlock devices?
PennDOT is responsible for publishing a list of approved ignition interlock devices. The list of approved systems will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Applying for an Ignition Interlock System/License
9. How does an individual obtain an Ignition Interlock License?
Thirty days prior to their eligibility date, PennDOT will mail the individual a Restoration Requirements Letter, a list of approved ignition interlock providers and an ‘Application for an Ignition Interlock License' form. This form is also available on our website
Once restoration requirements are met, applications completed, and a vendor has installed the approved device in each vehicle the individual owns, the vendor will notify PennDOT. PennDOT will then issue an Ignition Interlock License, pending completion of the driving suspension.
10. What does an Ignition Interlock License look like?
Ignition Interlock Licenses have a red banner that contain the words “Limited License” along with a red map of Pennsylvania in the lower right corner stating the type of limitation—in this case it will say “Ignition Interlock” inside the map.
11. How much does an Ignition Interlock License Cost?
The fee for an Ignition Interlock License varies (See chart). This is in addition to the restoration fee that is required.
12. Who is responsible for verifying that all vehicles owned by the individual have an approved device installed?
The individual will complete a ‘Self-Certification of Vehicle(s) Owned/Operated’ form (DL-21SC
) listing all vehicles they own or check the block indicating no vehicles are owned. The ignition interlock vendor will verify this information by checking PennDOT’s vehicle database. Once all of the vehicles owned by the individual have the device installed the vendor will send certification to PennDOT.
13. What if an individual cannot afford the ignition interlock system?
- Individuals whose offense occurred prior to September 30, 2003 may still choose to serve an additional year suspension in lieu of obtaining ignition interlock.
Individuals whose income is below 200% of the poverty level, may apply for a Hardship Exemption. The hardship exemption allows the individual to have it installed in only one vehicle.
Individuals who own no vehicles will be able to comply with the ignition interlock requirement by having an ignition interlock vendor certify that they own no vehicles and apply for the ignition interlock license.
14. How does an individual know that an ignition interlock device is required?
PennDOT’s Suspension Notice will inform the customer that they are required to comply with ignition interlock requirements before they can be restored.
15. What if an individual does not own a vehicle?
If an individual does not own a vehicle, they still need to complete the Ignition Interlock Self-Certification form and take it to an ignition interlock vendor. The ignition interlock vendor will check PennDOT’s motor vehicle database to ensure there are no vehicles registered to the individual.
The ignition interlock vendor will then certify to PennDOT that the individual owns no vehicles. Once the individual has met all restoration requirements, PennDOT will issue them an Ignition Interlock License.
16. Will the Ignition Interlock Vendor charge the individual to certify that they do not own any vehicles?
An Ignition Interlock Vendor can charge for this service. The fee charged is established by the vendor.
17. I have an out-of-state license, how do I comply with the Ignition Interlock requirement?
If the customer is not a resident of Pennsylvania, they need to submit documents proving they are a resident of another state. Acceptable documents for Proof of Residency are the same as those required to apply for a Pennsylvania Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit, or Identification Card. Refer to PUB 195US
18. I am moving or have moved out of the state, what are my options?
Check with the vendors listed in your Restoration Requirements letter to inquire if they do business in the state you are moving to. If they do, you can have devices installed, apply for your restricted license and be restored.
You will need to check with the DMV in the state you are moving or have moved to ask about the process for transferring your restricted PA license. If the customer has already moved out of state and they are no longer a Pennsylvania resident, they need to submit Proof of Residency documents listed in PUB 195US
19. Where does an individual obtain a ‘Self-Certification of Vehicle(s)’ form (DL-21SC), Hardship Exemption form (DL-21SC), or Employment Exemption Form (DL-3805)?
These forms are available by visiting our Forms and Publications
. Forms can also be obtained from ignition interlock vendors, messenger services or by calling PennDOT at 717-412-5300.
Installing Ignition Interlock
For a list of approved vendors go to the Pennsylvania DUI Association
webpage and click on the Ignition Interlock link at the bottom of the home page. If you do not have access to the internet, please call the Pennsylvania DUI Association
at 1-800-627-2384 for vendor information.
All systems are leased from the Installation Service Centers who determines the cost. The approximate cost to lease an ignition interlock system for a year is $1,200.
20. Must an Ignition Interlock System be installed on every vehicle that the individual owns?
Yes. The law requires that all vehicles owned, operated, or leased by the individual be equipped with an ignition interlock device. This includes vehicles that are not currently registered, vehicles not in running condition, and antique or classic vehicles where the insurance has been dropped for the season.
21. What if a family only owns one vehicle, how will other family members use that vehicle?
Family members will still be able to operate the vehicle. They will need to go through the breath test whenever prompted by the system.
22. Can the Ignition Interlock device be installed on a friend’s, family member’s, or company vehicle?
There is nothing in the law that prohibits a friend, family member or employer from installing the device on their vehicle for the defendant’s use. Anyone who uses the car will need to go through the breath test whenever prompted by the system.
23. How will Ignition Interlock be enforced?
PennDOT will issue an “Ignition Interlock” (II) license. This license is unique and easily recognized by law enforcement. If an individual is stopped by the police and presents an ignition interlock license, the vehicle they are operating must be equipped with the device.
24. What happens if an individual with an ignition interlock license drives a vehicle without the device?
An individual convicted of operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock device is subject to the following penalties:
- Subject to fines and imprisonment.
First Offense: ignition interlock period extended 12 months from conviction date.
- Second and Subsequent Offense: 12 month suspension and must comply with ignition interlock before they can be restored.
Getting Your Unrestricted License Back
25. How does an individual obtain an Unrestricted License after having the Ignition Interlock License for one year?
Thirty days prior to the expiration date of the Ignition Interlock License the individual will receive a (DL-3731
) form in the mail to apply for an unrestricted license. This form can also be obtained from ignition interlock vendors, messenger services or in our Forms and Publications
Return to Frequently Asked Questions
PennDOT’s Customer Call Center at 717-412-5300. TTY callers — please dial 711 to reach us.
The Call Center hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.