October 26, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Virginia drivers who are convicted of a first-time drunk driving offense now must install and use an ignition interlock system on their vehicles as a condition of receiving a restricted permit. The requirement took effect July 1, 2012. Previously, Virginia law required ignition interlock only for repeat offenders or for first-time offenders with very high blood alcohol levels, at 0.15 and above.
How Ignition Interlock Works
An ignition interlock system uses an analyzing device attached to the vehicle's ignition. In order to start the car, the driver must provide a breath sample that shows no more than a blood alcohol level of 0.02. Once the vehicle has started and is on the road, the system can signal the driver to test again at random times. If the driver fails the test or does not do the test, the ignition interlock system activates the horn and flashes the lights.
A monitoring service comes with the ignition interlock system and sends reports to the state. The driver must pay for the monitoring system, generally about $70 a month. Installing the ignition interlock is also at the driver's expense and costs an average of $75.
Motivation to Enact State Laws
The federal government has recently gotten into the act of drunk-driving enforcement, encouraging states to enact comparable ignition interlock laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has $20.8 million in grant funds for highway safety programs, reserved for states that require ignition interlock for all persons convicted of DUI. With the recent addition of Virginia, only 17 states now have such laws. Neighboring Maryland still has a law like Virginia's previous law.
A spokesman for the NHTSA reiterated that state legislatures can do what they like about requiring ignition interlock, though the NHTSA believes that the best policy is to require installing a system after just the first offense.
Attempting to Deter Drunk Driving
In Virginia there were 28,162 DUI convictions in 2011. Proponents of ignition interlock devices believe the new law will reduce this number by discouraging people from drinking and driving. The most difficult group of motorists to dissuade from driving drunk, according to one advocacy organization, are young men from age 21 to age 35. While other types of campaigns to discourage drunk driving do not seem to impact them, the advocates hope that the threat of having to install and use an ignition interlock system will. Being required to use ignition interlock, says a representative of the Department of Motor Vehicles, is both expensive and embarrassing.
With the new ignition interlock requirement for persons convicted of a first offense, no DUI conviction is a trivial matter. Virginia drivers who are accused of drunk driving need the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help with a vigorous defense that may prevent a conviction and avoid the need to use ignition interlock.
Article provided by Myers & Myers
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