Ignition Interlock Devices in D.C.

People convicted of an alcohol- or drug-related offense in D.C. can maintain their driving privileges if they install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their car.  

Previously, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in the District would have resulted in a full suspension of the person’s operating privileges for at least 6 months.

The IID requirement also applies to people with a D.C. driver’s license who refuse to submit to chemical testing (that is, a blood, breath, or urine test) in violation of D.C. Code § 50-1904.02D.C. Code § 50-2201.05a(b-3)(1). 

An IID is a handheld device, about the size of a cell phone, that is connected to the ignition system of the car.  The device prevents the car from starting unless the driver can provide a breath sample containing a breath alcohol level less than 0.02.  (The legal limit is 0.08.) 

The driver will also be required to provide breath samples during the trip.  All devices must be equipped with a camera.

Participation in the program requires the person to obtain a restricted D.C. driver’s license (either a restricted real ID license or a restricted Limited Purpose license).  Only designated vehicles with an IID installed may be driven.  The cost for enrolling in the program is $50. 

People with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) will be required to downgrade to a non-commercial driver’s license and enroll in the IID program.

In order to enroll in the program, the applicant must (1) have a D.C. driver license, (2) have either been convicted in court or administratively with respect to an alcohol- or drug-related offense, (3) not have any additional or pending licensing suspensions or revocations, (4) not ever have been convicted of causing death or injury while operating a motor vehicle in any jurisdiction, (5) have enrolled in or completed a D.C. Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) approved substance abuse treatment program, (6) not have previously participated unsuccessfully in the D.C. IID program or in any similar program in another jurisdiction for five years prior to the date of the application, (7) have obtained and maintained High-Risk SR22 Insurance, and (8) satisfy D.C. Clean Hands requirements.

Also known as a “Certificate of Financial Responsibility,” an SR-22 is a form filed with the DMV that certifies that the applicant’s car insurance meets minimum coverage required by law.  A “high risk SR-22” signals to the insurance company that the applicant is a high risk driver. 

The D.C. Clean Hands certificate verifies that the applicant does not owe the District more than $100 in outstanding fees, taxes and/or penalties. 

Use of an IID is required for six months in first offense cases, for one-year in second offense cases, and for two years in third and subsequent offense cases.  D.C. Code § 50-2201.05a(b)

A person enrolled in the program who fails to comply with all requirements can be charged criminally.  The maximum penalty for this offense is incarceration for up to one year and a fine of $2,500.

Last updated:  August 27, 2023