Virginia’s Ignition Interlock Requirement for DUI First Offenders

Virginia already has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, but they continue to find new ways to burden those convicted of DUI. The most recent addition to Virginia DUI punishment is the “ignition interlock” system. When installed in a car, an ignition interlock prevents that car from starting until the driver blows into a mouthpiece. The device measures the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood, and will not allow the car to start if it detects a blood alcohol concentration above .02.

Virginia DUI first offenders must have an ignition interlock system installed on all vehicles they intend to operate if they wish to receive a restricted license. For most DUI offenders, a restricted license is a must, so that they can continue driving themselves to their jobs, and transporting their children to and from school or child care. The system must be kept on the car for at least six months.

Being forced to install the ignition interlock adds a significant expense to an already expensive mistake. Costs include a fee for installation of the device, along with a monthly monitoring fee. Drivers can expect to pay over $500 for a six month period. In addition, bringing your car to the monthly monitoring appointment is required by law, and can be an aggravating inconvenience. Perhaps most significantly, a driver who is issued a restricted license cannot begin driving until the ignition interlock system is installed, which can take a week or more following your conviction. Some Virginia counties may allow you to pre-enroll for their alcohol safety program, which may expedite your ignition interlock installation.

Failing to comply with all of the requirements of ignition interlock will have serious consequences for DUI offenders. Violations occur if you test positive for alcohol when blowing into the device, fail to report to the ignition interlock vendor for monthly monitoring appointments, tampering with or trying to evade the system, or driving a vehicle without ignition interlock installed. Consequences may include revocation of your restricted license or having new criminal charges filed against you.

Your Virginia DUI lawyer should advise you of the ignition interlock requirement if you are convicted of DUI or when considering any plea agreement. The best way to avoid the requirement is to avoid a DUI conviction, but being prepared with all of the facts will help you make an informed decision when considering your legal options.