Ignition interlock focal point of new, tougher DUI law

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday signed House Bill 279 and its companion Senate Bill 378 to require all individuals convicted of driving under the influence, including first-time offenders, to operate only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device when driving on a restricted license.

Ignition interlock devices will be installed and monitored at the expense of the offender.  Prior to this legislation, Virginia law required ignition interlock devices when the offender’s blood alcohol level was 0.15 or greater or after a second or subsequent DUI offense. The legislation went into effect July 1.

“Last year, 245 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Virginia and another 5,465 were injured. No family should have to hear the news that their loved one was killed or injured by a drunk driver,” McDonnell said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. Similar laws requiring interlock devices for all of those convicted of driving under the influence in Oregon and Arizona have been followed by more than 50 percent decreases in DUI-related deaths in those states.

“Ignition interlocks are a tool that helps to deter potential drunk drivers both before and after a DUI conviction,” said State Sen. Donald McEachin. “These devices will be paid for by the individuals themselves and allow them to continue to drive to work and provide for themselves and their families, while preventing them from operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. This legislation will save lives in Virginia.”

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