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  • Virginia & Ignition Interlock Devices

  • VA Imposes Mandatory Interlock Device for Convicted DUI Offenders

    People who decide to drink and drive in Virginia may be required to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles if they are convicted of a DUI. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Virginia was the 17th state to enact legislation requiring all convicted DUI offenders, including first-time offenders, to install an interlock device on all of their vehicles. While these devices are designed to keep motorists from driving while intoxicated, they do come with some strict rules and expenses.

    What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

    According to the Century Council, ignition interlock devices are cellphone-sized breath test analyzers that are installed directly into the ignition system of the offender's vehicle. Before the driver is able to start the car, they must submit a breath sample by blowing into a tube that is connected to a device on the driver's dashboard. The machine evaluates the breath sample for the presence of alcohol. If the blood alcohol content level measures less than the present amount, which is usually 0.02 percent, the car will start. Periodically during the drive, an alarm will sound indicating that the driver must submit another breath sample. If the driver fails to blow into the tube or has a BAC that is over the preset amount, a warning sound will indicate that the car must be turned off.

    Maintenance & Calibration Appointments

    All of this information, including attempted starts, measured BAC's and any failed breath tests, are recorded in the device and downloaded to a computer during the next ignition interlock device maintenance appointment.

    Once drivers are court-ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, they have 30 days to submit proof of installation, according to Virginia legislation. Drivers must then have the device calibrated and monitored every 30 days. People who are ordered to use an interlock device are responsible for paying all costs associated with the machine, including leasing, purchasing, maintaining and monitoring the system.

    If DUI offenders fail to schedule their monthly maintenance appointments or do not install the device within 30 days of the order, they may have all of their driving privileges taken away completely. People who try to tamper with the ignition interlock device or drive a vehicle that is not equipped with an IID may be charged with a misdemeanor.

    How Can an Attorney Help?

    People who have been charged with a DUI may feel overwhelmed at the potential DUI penalties with a conviction. A DUI can make it hard for people to find employment, obtain student funding or receive a professional license. A criminal defense attorney can walk you through the stressful legal process of fighting your DUI charges. With a thorough knowledge of Virginia law, an attorney can ensure that all of your rights are upheld in court.