Ignition Interlock Device, License & DUI in PA

Information on Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Laws

How does Ignition Interlock work? How do you get an Interlock Limited License?

If you were charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering how you will still be able to drive to work, if you will lose your license, and other penalties you may face. If you have been convicted of DUI already, you are probably curious about the details of getting an Ignition Interlock system installed and how it works.

Much of the outcome of your case will depend on whether there were prior offenses and the blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of  arrest. However, there are some standard sentencing guidelines for DUI / DWI that occur if you are convicted, and one of the penalties often handed down is having to install and use ignition interlock if you want to drive a vehicle. This is a device that attaches to your vehicle, essentially a breathalyzer, and will not allow your vehicle to start unless you can prove a negative blood alcohol content level (BAC).

Although Ignition Interlock may seem like a giant burden, and the cost is your responsibility, it is better than having your license suspended for a year or more and much cheaper than taking an Uber everywhere.

In Pennsylvania, if you test over .1% BAC (high level) or refuse breath or chemical testing, the Ignition Interlock is mandated, even for first-time DUI offenders.

In 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate also created the Ignition Interlock Limited License, allowing first-time DUI offenders to drive with an ignition interlock device (without waiting for their 30 day to one year license suspension to be over.) Even though a person’s license is still suspended, the Ignition Interlock Limited License allows DUI offenders to keep their freedom and continue to drive without waiting for the suspension to be lifted. This applies only for driving a vehicle that operates with Ignition Interlock.

If you refused breath or chemical testing after a DUI arrest, you are eligible to apply for the Ignition Interlock Limited License after a six-month license suspension.

If you were charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, speak with an experienced DUI lawyer in Pennsylvania about your case – there are many options to help you keep your driver’s license and stop a DUI conviction from ruining your record.


An Arrest is Not a Conviction. 



Our Number One Goal: Getting Your DUI Charges Dismissed.


How Does Ignition Interlock Work?

Functionality of Ignition Interlock

The Ignition Interlock Device connects to your vehicle’s ignition and disables a driver from starting the vehicle without a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level under specified threshold. It essentially works like a breathalyzer and the driver must blow into the device to allow it to turn on the vehicle.

The device may also require the driver to blow into the device periodically while driving, however, the device will not shut off while driving. The device does not test for controlled substances (drugs) or marijuana.

Obtaining an Ignition Interlock Device

Typically, the device must be leased from a Pennsylvania approved vendor. The prices can vary from there. Individuals are responsible for all costs of the Ignition Interlock Device installation and associated fees. See the PA Code Bulletin for a list of Pennsylvania approved Ignition Interlock vendors. 

However, in Allegheny County, there is one company who issues the devices. For more information on the Allegheny County PA Ignition Interlock Program  or see the Allegheny County Info Sheet on Ignition Interlock. You can also phone 412-931-6107 for the Allegheny County Ignition Interlock office.

Cost of an Ignition Interlock Device

According to PennDOT, the cost for a device can range from $900 to $1,300 for the year. Normally installation fees will be $75-$150 and then there are monthly fees for operating the device, but every vendor is different.

The device must stay on the vehicle for one year, from the time the Ignition Interlock Limited License is issued. If a driver is convicted of violating 75 Pa.C.S. Section 3808(a)(relating to illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with Ignition Interlock) or 3808(b)(relating to tampering with an Ignition Interlock system), the person is subject to fines and imprisonment. In addition, the Ignition Interlock period will be extended for one year from the date of conviction.

Learn more about violating the Ignition Interlock Device Program. For more information on Ignition Interlock:



Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221 for a Free Consultation.


What is the Ignition Interlock Limited License and How Do I Apply?

An Ignition Interlock Limited License is a special driver’s license that may be issued to a person whose driving privilege is suspended following a certain DUI violations or refusal to submit to chemical testing (after six months).

The limited license allows a driver to operate a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device installed, if all requirements for installation are met. Typically the license is issued for one year. A person with a limited license cannot operate any other type of motor vehicle other than the vehicle with the ignition interlock device installed.

To be issued, a driver first must apply for the license; it is not given automatically. There are fees for applying for the limited license, which vary.

According to PennDOT, thirty days prior to an individual’s restoration eligibility date, PennDOT will mail them a restoration requirements letter, which will include an application for an Ignition Interlock License. It will also include information on how to contact an Ignition Interlock vendor.

If a person has been accepted to ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition), the license cannot be issued. This is why it is important to talk to a DUI Attorney before making any decisions, because there are many options for fighting a DUI, and you should know which option is best for you and your unique circumstances.

While CDL holders may apply for and receive an Ignition Interlock Limited License, the license cannot be used to operate commercial vehicles.

There are exemptions for people who do not own a vehicle, and for people who cannot afford to install an ignition interlock device.

For more information, see PennDOT’s fact sheet on the Ignition Interlock Limited License.



Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221 for a Free Consultation.



There is generally no license suspension for a first offense DUI if the BAC level is between .08% to .99%. However, if your BAC level falls into the second tier or the highest tier, over .10%, you face a 12-month license suspension for a first offense.

If you refuse a breathalyzer or chemical testing, you automatically receive a 12-month license suspension simply for your refusal. The license suspension will be in addition to any penalties you face if convicted of DUI.

Drivers who hold a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, face a 12-month license suspension for a first offense.  


An Arrest is Not a Conviction. Our number one goal is to get your charges dismissed. If that is not possible, we try to get them reduced to a minimum sentence and penalties.

The stress of a DUI arrest along with its penalties and fines can be taxing. When you add the possibility of a lengthy license suspension to the list, it can be overwhelming. How will you get to work? How will you get your kids to school? Life without a license makes even the most common everyday tasks very complicated.

If you have been charged with a DUI, seek the help of an experienced DUI attorney. All DUI violations are possible to fight and win in court. There are many defense strategies to consider. A DUI lawyer can try and have your charges and sentence reduced to a bare minimum.

It is important that you speak with an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer immediately if you were arrested for DUI. Attorney Justin J. Ketchel provides free consultations and can explain your rights and next steps for protecting your rights.


If you were convicted of a DUI and had your license suspended, you are probably eager to get your license back. In order to reinstate your license, you must follow the specific instructions provided by the Pennsylvania DMV. A restoration requirement letter is usually sent approximately 30 days before the suspension period is due to end. This letter will explain all the necessary steps to take to reinstate your license.

As of January, 2018, Pennsylvania has increased the fees associated with a loss of license due to DUI conviction. The fees depend on the number of DUI convictions you have on your record and are quite substantial.

Fees for reinstating a driver’s license in Pennsylvania:

  • First offense DUI: $500 reinstatement fee
  • Second offense DUI: $1,000 reinstatement fee
  • Third or subsequent offense DUI: $2,000 reinstatement fee

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

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