Understanding ignition interlock device laws in Virginia

Virginia requires all convicted DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles for a period of time.

Many people living in Virginia enjoy having a few drinks with dinner or while out with friends. Although drinking is not illegal in the state, it is illegal to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Those who are convicted of drinking and driving are required to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for at least six month. The Virginia Legislature enacted this law in 2012 in an attempt to lower the number of intoxicated drivers on the road.

What are ignition interlock devices?

Interlock devices are much like roadside breath test devices that officers use to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. Rather than being hand-held, however, IIDs are installed directly in the ignition system of the car. Drivers are prompted to submit a breath sample whenever they want to start the vehicle, and then at random intervals while driving. If at any time the driver submits a breath sample that measures a blood alcohol content level of 0.02 or higher, the car will either not start or alert the driver to pull over and turn the car off.

Information regarding the driver's attempts to start the vehicle, BAC levels and lock-outs are stored within the device, and is later transmitted to law enforcement each time the vehicle goes in for a maintenance appointment.

IID regulations

Once offenders are court-ordered to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, they have 30 days to get the device installed, according to Virginia statutes. Furthermore, the offender must take his or her vehicle in for a maintenance appointment every 30 days. At these appointments, the device is calibrated and the information is sent to law enforcement. Not only are offenders responsible for covering the cost of installation, but they must also pay for the device's maintenance, calibration and any other fees associated with owning the device.

Organizing a DUI defense

Being charged with a DUI in Virginia can be scary. You may have questions regarding the court process, as well as your legal rights and options. A criminal attorney may be able to help answer your concerns regarding your DUI charge. Depending on the details of your case, a lawyer could help you organize a strong defense.