Virginia Ignition Interlock Law Toughens Up on DUI Offenders

A Virginia law that took effect in July 2012 requires thousands of first-time DUI offenders to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles. In 2012, there were 8,777 alcohol-related traffic accidents in Virginia, and 249 people were killed by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Ignition interlock devices work much like breathalyzers, testing the blood alcohol level of a driver before a vehicle will start. If the test detects a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or more, the vehicle will not start. In addition, the device requires a driver to blow into the device intermittently while the vehicle is running.

If a driver does not pass, or fails to submit one of the rolling tests, the vehicle’s lights flash and the horn honks until the vehicle is parked. All data from the device are downloaded on a monthly basis, and this information is used to monitor DUI offenders.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program are two main proponents of ignition interlock requirements for DUI offenders. But others believe the Virginia ignition interlock law is too strict.

Prior to July 2012, only repeat offenders convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more were required to install the devices. Now, a first-time conviction at the legal threshold for DUI of 0.08 can trigger the requirement.

Those who oppose the Virginia law point to the increased caseload for courts and expenses for drivers. For an average six-month ignition interlock installation, the cost is nearly $500.

The number of Virginia residents required to get the devices as a result of the change is expected to quadruple, to approximately 18,000.

Opponents of drunk driving in Virginia are praising the law as an efficient way to combat crashes involving intoxicated drivers. Vendors say they will be able to meet the demand for interlock devices.

Virginia law protects the victims of car crashes, motorcycle wrecks, truck collisions and other traffic accidents caused by impaired drivers. An experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if your life has been turned upside down by a drunk driver.