What is an Ignition Interlock Exemption?

August 8, 2019

When someone is convicted of a DUI, it’s due to the fact that they operated a motor vehicle while their blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit. Driving while intoxicated can result in the revocation or suspension of your driver’s license, however, there is much more involved with this violation.

If your state court has convicted you of a DUI, there’s a solid chance that you’ll be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. And, if this is a repeat offense, that high likelihood of mandatory IID time turns into a 100% certainty, regardless of what state you reside in—that is, unless you qualify for an ignition interlock exemption. 

In some special drunk driving cases, it’s possible to obtain absolution from mandatory IID time by applying for an ignition interlock exemption. Naturally, there’ll be a rigorous criterion you must meet in order to fulfill the prerequisites. 

Are you curious as to what types of exemptions are available and what you must do to qualify for them? Read on to find out!  

What is an Ignition Interlock Exemption?

Simply put, if granted reprieve, a person convicted of a DUI won’t be required to have an interlock device installed. Ignition interlock program exemptions are most commonly given out for one of three reasons:

  1. Hardship exemption 
  1. Work exemption
  1. Medical exemption

Below, we’ll briefly delve into the rules and regulations relating to these three exemption categories. 

Hardship Exemption

Depending on your state, you may be able to qualify for a general ignition interlock exemption. Typically, this is tied into your ownership, or lack thereof, of a registered vehicle. In California, for example, you have one opportunity to qualify for an exemption. You must apply within 30 days of receiving notification of mandatory IID installation.

To apply for an exemption you must fill out the Exemption Form DL 4055B, which acknowledges the following mandatory restrictions:

  • You do not own a vehicle.
  • You do not have access to a vehicle where you live.
  • You no longer have access to the vehicle used during the DUI. 

You will then have to acknowledge the following:

  • You can only drive a vehicle fitted with an IID
  • You must have a valid driver license before you can drive again.
  • If you purchase or gain access to a vehicle within the time frame of your mandatory IID time, you will install an IID in it.

Work Exemption

Today, 21 states allow for an employer IID exemption. They are:

  • Alaska 
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming 

In these states, if you wish to use your employer’s vehicle, you’ll have to apply and qualify. In order to satisfy state rules, the motor vehicle must be:

  • Used solely for work-related purposes
  • Owned/leased and maintained by the employer. 

Even if you are granted an exemption, the vehicles can’t be used for personal purposes. In addition, there are several binding constraints, including:

  • Locations you can drive to
  • Max hours driven per day
  • Max hours driven per week

To apply, you must fill out a form such as Washington’s Employer Declaration for Ignition Interlock Exemption. After that you’ll be required to certify the following:

  • The exemption is for business purposes and not personal use.
  • The vehicles are owned by the business, and you don’t own or partially own that same business. 
  • You aren’t self-employed. 
  • You must have an IID in your personal vehicle. 
  • You’ll alert the DMV within two weeks if you change places of employment. 

If you qualify, you’re legally required to tell your employer about your DUI and exemption. That exemption will last for 365 days, but if your IID sentencing is longer than that, then you’ll have to reapply once the year is up. Those found guilty of violating these terms and conditions will be subject to felony charges and punishments such as probation, suspension, IID extensions, jailing, and/or fines.  

Medical Exemption 

Most states allow for an exemption on ignition interlock devices based on a person’s medical history. In Oregon, for example, ORS 813.602(3)(b) details that certain drivers can qualify for medical reasons so long as they meet the following criteria: 

  • If the driver gives the DMV proof that they have a medical condition or impairment that prevents them from being able to either fully operate an IID or to operate the device safely.
  • Proof must be provided by a state-licensed or certified primary care provider or health care provider. They’ll confirm that their client’s medical condition impedes their ability to use an IID safely or effectively. 

To apply for the medical exemption, the driver must submit IID Medical Exemption form 73506941. If their medical condition or functional impairment is only temporary, the DMV may also issue a temporary IID medical exemption that expires at a certain date. 

Ignition Interlock Exemption

Today, depending on your state of residence there are commonly 3 reasons why a person can apply for an IID exemption. They are:

  • Hardship
  • Work-related
  • Medical-related

For those that qualify for any of the reasons, remember that you’ll need to fill out the relevant applications posthaste. Even if you are granted reprieve, remember that you acted recklessly by driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Promise yourself and those close to you that when you do operate a vehicle again, it will be in a completely sober state of mind with no influence of alcohol. Doing so protects both you and other innocent drivers sharing the road.  


CADMV. IID Pilot Program FAQ. 


Occupational Licensing Industry News. DMV IID Pilot Program. https://www.pdffiller.com/jsfiller-desk11/?projectId=317566187&expId=5248&expBranch=3#b6d9095407fb4e81a25ca4c8af16f56c

Washington State Department of Licensing. Employer Declaration for Ignition Interlock Exemption. https://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/500025.pdf

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