April 16, 2012
New Virginia Ignition Interlock Law Sparks Debate
Virginia’s recently-passed ignition interlock law has set off a debate between groups battling drunk driving and those that represent offenders about whether the new law goes too far.
An ignition interlock system works by disabling the car if the driver has been drinking. A car with an installed ignition interlock will not start if the driver blows into an attached Breathalyzer and registers a certain level of alcohol on his or her breath. To discourage a friend from taking the test for the driver, the system requires that the driver blow into the device at random times while the vehicle is in motion.
The new law, which takes effect in July, will require virtually all first time DUI offenders-whether they were highly intoxicated or just slightly over the legal limit-to install ignition interlocks in their cars. The former law only required repeat offenders and those with a blood alcohol level above .14 to install ignition interlocks.
As a result of the new law, about four times the number of people will be required to install ignition interlocks. Each offender will have to pay for the installation, which is not cheap-about $480 for a six-month installation.
Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving contend that ignition interlocks reduce repeat offenses. Such groups say that the 274 alcohol-related motorist deaths and 5,500 injures during 2010 warrant the tough measures.
However, public defenders and some lawyers say that the law goes too far. They contend that the new law will encourage more cases to go to trial, taxing an already overburdened court system. In addition, they say that the interlock installation and maintenance fees will disproportionately affect low-income drivers.
Source: “Is Va.’s ignition-interlock rule for first-time DUI offenders too tough?” Justin Jouvenal, The Washington Post, 4/8/12
February 28, 2012
Virginia Steps Closer to Ignition Interlock for 1st Time DUI
First-time driving under the influence (DUI) offenders could soon be forced to install an ignition interlock system on their cars. The Senate recently passed House Bill 279, which extends current ignition interlock requirements to those who’ve been convicted of only one DUI.
Virginia requires an ignition interlock device for repeat DUI offenders — those who’ve been convicted two or more times. But that may soon change. Based on statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), an ignition interlock system could affect nearly 30,000 people in Virginia, at least that was the number of convicted DUI offenders in 2010.
An ignition interlock system essentially disables a car if the driver has been drinking. A car equipped with ignition interlock will not start if the driver blows into the attached Breathalyzer and registers above a 0.02 BAC. The driver will also be required to blow into the device at random intervals while the car is in motion.
If the interlock system does detect alcohol in the driver’s system, after a retest to confirm, the car’s horn will sound and the lights will flash. The ignition interlock system is intended to notify law enforcement that someone is getting behind the wheel despite being impaired.
This is the sixth year in a row that an ignition interlock law has come up in the Virginia legislature. The bill was modified to apply to first-time DUI offenders only if their blood-alcohol concentration was 0.12 or greater. The Senate rejected the change and the bill, as-is, has now passed both the House and the Senate and is headed to Governor McDonnell’s desk.
Source: Loudoun Times, “Senate requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers” Brian Hill, February 26, 2012
November 30, 2011
Arrested for Drunk Driving in Richmond? Fight Your Driver’s License Suspension
In Virginia, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) means the immediate suspension of your driver’s license. As related to your Virginia driving privileges, you do not have to be convicted of a drunk-driving offense before it is illegal for you to drive, just being arrested triggers an Administrative License Suspension (ALS).
If you are facing your first Virginia DUI charge, the automatic license suspension is for one week. If you refused to take a breath test, your Virginia driver’s license will also be automatically suspended. The penalties for being arrested for drunk driving are immediate; your Richmond DUI defense attorney can further explain the possible additional penalties for conviction of a drunk-driving offense.
You Can Fight the License Suspension. Call an Experienced VA DUI Attorney Right Away!
The Administrative License Suspension is in addition to any penalties that may be ordered if you are convicted for a Virginia DUI and the time period that your license will be administratively suspended increases if you are a repeat DUI offender. For a second DUI offense, the ALS lasts for 60 days or until your case goes to trial, whichever comes first. For a third drunk-driving offense within 10 years, your license will be suspended until your case goes to trial.
Contacting an experienced DUI defense lawyer should be your first step in fighting the charges against you. There may be an opportunity to challenge your arrest for DUI and the Automatic License Suspension. A police officer must have ‘probable cause’ to charge a suspected drunk driver with a DUI. If you are able to successfully challenge the existence of probable cause, you may be able to save your Virginia driving privileges from suspension.
Source: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, “Virginia is Tough on Drunk and Drugged Drivers“