Ignition Interlock To Be Required For All DUI-Restricted Licenses in Virginia

by Jamison Koehler on April 18, 2012
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Beginning July 1, 2012, every person who is convicted of a drinking-and-driving offense in Virginia and who wants to drive on a restricted license will be required to install an ignition interlock device on his/her car.  Current law applies this requirement only to repeat offenders and to first-time offenders who are convicted of a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher.

Similar to a breath test machine, an ignition interlock device is a piece of equipment that is installed onto the dashboard of the car.  The device requires a “clean breath sample” before the car will start.  Random additional blows are required once the vehicle is in motion.

With Virginia’s drinking-and-driving laws already among the toughest in the nation, the new law could have a number of unintended side effects. First of all, by increasing the penalty for first-time offenders, the law will increase the number of people who decide to take their cases to trial.  As Fairfax County Public Defender Todd Petit put it, “if you are automatically getting an interlock, then you have little incentive not to try the case.” The increased number of trials will create a greater workload for Virginia’s already over-burdened court system.

Second, because the law does not provide for the state to reduce or waive the installation fee for those who cannot afford it, the law will affect the poor disproportionately. People with financial means will be able to afford the $480 fee for a typical six-month installation. Many other people could end up driving on a suspended license.

Finally, there is concern about the potential backlog of people attempting to have ignition interlock devices installed on their cars.  According to the Washington Post, the new law will quadruple the number of people required to install the device to more than 18,000.  Although there are now four interlock vendors in the state, up from one when the program was first launched, the new law may result in lengthy delays in people’s ability to obtain a restricted license.

3 Comments on “Ignition Interlock To Be Required For All DUI-Restricted Licenses in Virginia

  1. New York State has had ignition interlocks for about two years. It applies to every DWI offense except for the reduced traffic infraction of driving while ability impaired and driving while on drugs, whether a first time offender or not.

    The provisions seem very similar, including the lack of a fee waiver for indigent persons.

  2. It has to be a lot less expensive to include a breath test interlock during the manufacture of a new car, than to purchase and install one as an after-market installation. So why not require the device as an additional safety measure on all new cars? Why wait for a DUI conviction? Isn’t it just as likely that a driver will kill someone the first time he/she drives drunk?

    It would be interesting to find out how much that would add to the cost of a new car.

  3. It seems that the federal government is hoping to entice others to adopt similar provisions. Congress has previously used the purse-strings power to entice states to enact speed limits across the county. Now they hoping to use monetary incentives to force broke states to enact even more local driving regulations. interlock device arizona is important and is not against the law, and is more than willing to avoid cases of DUI and DUI related accidents.

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