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Starting in July, Virginia DUI means ignition interlock

Interlock devices for DUI offenses have been a hot topic recently in Virginia and throughout the country. In fact, we previously discussed the pros and cons of new Virginia legislation that will require ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders.

The new law, which was passed quickly by legislators, will go into effect in July and is expected to quadruple the number of Virginia residents required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. That means about 18,000 people statewide will have to pay $480 for the installation of the device, which will stay in people's cars for six months.

Critics of the new law say it won't help matters, since many people who are convicted of DUI won't be able to afford both the $300 fine and the price of the interlock device, meaning the law could have a disproportionate financial effect on the community. It's also expected that the court system will be bogged down with more cases going to trial. Additionally, critics suspect that more people will simply choose to drive without a license.

As of now, a DUI conviction usually results in a fine, a one-year suspension of driving privileges and mandatory alcohol-education classes, which the convicted person must pay for. In some cases, though, a judge will waive the alcohol classes or allow a person to drive to work or school on a restricted license.

But according to the new legislation, drivers have to install an interlock device in order to receive permission to drive on a restricted license. In addition, the new law doesn't allow for a judge to waive the $480 fee for installing the interlock device.

Starting in July, if you are convicted of DUI in Virginia, you must blow into a Breathalyzer in order to start your vehicle. If alcohol is detected, the ignition will be locked and the vehicle won't start. The system also includes "rolling tests," requiring drivers to blow into the Breathalyzer while on the road.

Source: newsleader.com, "Va. requiring ignition locks after first DUI," April 10, 2012

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