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Ignition Interlock System Injuries

Colburn Law

After a DUI arrest in Washington state, the court will impose a series of administrative and criminal penalties. Consequences can include jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, and mandatory community service. However, you may also have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle — which can lead to severe injury due to the distraction risk these devices pose for drivers.

What Are Ignition Interlock Devices?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous crime, and the state of Washington treats it very seriously. The police use the following thresholds to determine if you are intoxicated at the time of your arrest, either through a breathalyzer or a blood test.

  • If you are an adult 21 years or older, the legal intoxication threshold is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
  • If you are a commercial vehicle driver, the threshold is .04% or higher.
  • If you are a minor under the age of 21, the threshold is .02% or higher.

To prevent previously-convicted drivers from operating their vehicles while intoxicated again, one of Washington’s penalties for this crime is the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Before you can drive your vehicle, you will need to blow into the device and the built-in breathalyzer will analyze your BAC. If you are intoxicated, the device will prevent your vehicle from starting and you will not be able to drive.

Washington Statutes on Ignition Interlock Devices

While ignition interlock devices are a required administrative penalty in many Washington DUI cases, they can pose a serious risk of injury to you if you have one in your vehicle. These devices can interfere with your ability to drive, and may heighten your risk of getting into a car accident.

To operate a vehicle using an ignition interlock device, you may need to give a breathalyzer test while you are driving. This is known as a rolling retest, and to perform one, you will need to push certain buttons while driving and maintain control over the device by holding it in a specific way. You may become distracted by operating the ignition interlock at the same time as driving your vehicle, which can result in an accident and serious injury.

However, Washington tries to distance itself from liability in these instances — specifically in statute RCW 46.20.755. Under this statute, the state grants municipalities and counties immunity from any injuries that occur after an employee installs your ignition interlock device on all of the vehicles you operate.

Your Options After Ignition Interlock Injury

Although the city or county may distance itself from liability in situations of injury caused by these devices, you still have legal options available to you after an ignition interlock injury or accident. However, due to the complexity of these cases, you will need an attorney to guide you through these processes.

While it may be difficult to hold the government liable for your injuries due to statute RCW 46.20.755, your attorney can help you explore all available pathways to you. Your lawyer can help you build your defense and discuss your next steps. You may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, and your lawyer can help you identify the appropriate at-fault parties to hold accountable.

If your accident involves other people who suffer injuries due to ignition interlock distraction, they may try to hold you liable even though the state-imposed device was the cause of the accident. In this instance, you will need someone to defend your case in instances where another party is attempting to file a claim against you for distracted driving.

If you suffered injuries due to an ignition interlock device, you are not alone and legal assistance is available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may be eligible to claim compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional damages, and more. Contact a Washington personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your optimal pathways toward maximum compensation.