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DUI ignition lock law keeps drunk drivers off the road

7/30/2013, 10:52 a.m.

The new law lays it down: tampering or attempting to circumvent an interlock in Virginia is a “Class 1 misdemeanor.” The alcohol detection system triggers the horn and flashing lights, if the operator’s BAC exceeds 0.02 percent, or if the driver fails to take the test. Virginia’s IID law requires first-time convicted drunk drivers, who are driving on a restricted driver’s license, to operate a vehicle equipped with an IID.

“Previously, the requirement for an ignition interlock was imposed as a result of two or more DUI convictions or the first DUI conviction if the offender's blood-alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 percent or above,” explain officials with the Virginia DMV. “While 0.08 percent BAC is legally drunk, a driver may be convicted of DUI while driving with a BAC of less than 0.08 percent.”

However, under the current statute that went into effect last July the ignition interlock device prevents a motor vehicle ignition from starting, if a driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds 0.02 percent. The device is also equipped with the ability to perform a rolling retest and to electronically log the blood alcohol content during ignition, attempted ignition and rolling retest.

Those intent on drinking and driving in Virginia are discovering to their chagrin that there is no longer a “get out of jail free card” in the state, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. Earlier this month, starting July 1, 2013, another hard-hitting DUI law (HB1559/SB 1272) went into effect in Virginia. Passed during the 2013 Virginia General Assembly Session, the new law “enhances the penalties for repeat DUI offenders,” supporters say. The new statute dictates: “any person convicted of a second DUI offense will be sentenced to at least one year in prison and fined $1,000.”