As of July 1, 2012, in the state of Virginia, every first time drunk-driving offender will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their automobile. The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer in your vehicle that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver fails the on-board alcohol breath test. In Virginia, the device is set to fail if the reading is above 0.02 percent blood alcohol content. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for the device and it varies from state to state. The device is quite small and integrated into your automobiles starting mechanism.
This new punishment bill for drunk drivers was approved by over 80% of legislators in Virginia, making the state one of the 15 states that already require mandatory interlock ignition devices for first time drunk driving offenders. In Virginia alone there were over 30,000 DUI and DWI convictions, out of which most offenders had a blood alcohol content of 0.14, in 2010. As for automobile accidents: alcohol related crashes were about 7% of total accidents, but made up about 37% of fatal accidents in Virginia, in 2010.
The Guidelines for the new law require that:
- A judge will order the installation of the ignition interlock device. After which, the court clerk will register the court order with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will restrict the defendants driver's license and then the driver must show proof that the ignition device was properly installed in their vehicle, within 30 days of the court order.
- The court will revoke the driver's restricted license if the offender does not install the device within the 30 days after the court order is made and if the device is not properly maintained and monitored.
- An electronic log of all breathalyzer test readings will be maintained by the device. Should the offender fail any of the tests, both random and initial starter tests, the vehicle's horn will sound, repeatedly, and the lights will flash.
- The device must remain in the offenders' vehicle for 6 consecutive months without a failed breathalyzer test result and the offender may not drive any other vehicle without the device.
- After a second DUI/DWI conviction, every vehicle registered and owned by the offender must have a device installed.
In addition to the ignition interlock device, the following are also consequences of drunk-driving punishments in Virginia:
- Suspension, restriction and or revocation of the offenders' license
- Jail or prison time
- Community service
- Alcohol education
- Criminal record
- Vehicle impoundment, and
- Repayment of costs incurred by the state for state property damage, police costs and fire/emergency services
Therefore; if you or a loved one is arrested for and/or charged with DUI or DWI, you must contact my office to discuss your legal rights and discuss a plan of defense.