How Does Virginia’s Interlock Law Work?

How Does Virginia’s Interlock Law Work?

DUI over .08

The ignition interlock law in Virginia is one of the toughest in the country. It is also one of the most criticized laws when it comes to DUI penalties. In the simplest terms, the law in Virginia requires all those convicted of driving under the influence to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, including first-time offenders. Today, we will take a deeper look at the interlock law of Virginia, so you understand what you are required to do if you are ever convicted for DUI.

When the Law Changed

The new law was passed overwhelmingly by Virginia lawmakers and went into effect in July 2012. The old law only required ignition interlock devices in vehicles of repeat offenders or first-time offenders who recorded a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher.

The change in the law was brought about by the high number of DUI incidents in the state, according to the then-president of the Washington Area Regional Alcohol Program, Kurt Erickson. Erickson said in a 2012 Washington Post story (regarding the previous law) that there are still 29,000 people arrested each year for DUI in Virginia. And data from the Department of Transportation in the state showed that 37 percent of deaths on the road were alcohol-related.

All About the Virginia Ignition Interlock Law

The new law in Virginia requires all those convicted for DUI to install the device, along with an electronic log on all of the vehicles they own or that are registered to them. Those convicted must also enroll in an alcohol safety action program run by the state and provide proof of such to a supervisor from the program. Here are some other notable facts about the new Virginia ignition interlock law:

  • The law requires a minimum of six months for the device to be installed in the offender’s vehicle. The court has the discretion to extend this if there are other DUI convictions on the offender’s record.
  • DUI offenders are not allowed to drive any type of vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • The state names providers of ignition interlock devices and electronic logs. Offenders must acquire the device and the log from one of these state-approved providers and no one else.
  • Employers are allowed to ask the court for special dispensation for an employee to drive a company vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device. If this is the case, the employee is only allowed to drive the company vehicle during work hours and for business purposes only. Should the vehicle owned by the company belong to a company the offender owns, he or she will not be permitted to drive said vehicle.
  • During the six-month restriction period, or whatever period is assigned by the court, the offender cannot drive a commercial vehicle, a school bus, or any other school vehicle.
  • The court could rule that the ignition interlock device be installed the minute the offender is convicted. This leads to a requirement of the offender paying the court a $20 fee.
  • All costs related to the ignition interlock device, including installation, are the responsibility of the offender. The ignition interlock device must be serviced and calibrated every 30 days. Proof of this must be submitted to the offender’s program supervisor as well as the court that issued the conviction.
  • The electronic logs are submitted by the provider of the device to the court every 30 days.
  • All driving privileges will be revoked if the offender fails to install the ignition interlock device in their vehicle, fails to have it serviced every 30 days, or fails to have it monitored electronically.
  • A person who aids the offender bypass the device by blowing into it for them or tampering with it is subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This includes providing the offender with a vehicle that does not have an interlock device installed.

Schedule a Consultation with a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

Were you arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Virginia? A DUI conviction can be costly in numerous ways, including heavy fines, possible jail time, community service, loss of driving privileges, and the mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device. Having a DUI conviction on your criminal record can cost you in other ways as well. For example, you may have more difficulty obtaining housing, employment, bank financing, college scholarships, and obtaining a firearm.

With so much on the line, you cannot afford to leave your DUI defense to chance. It’s time for you to protect your rights by contacting the experienced criminal defense team at the Pack Law Group. Call our office at 540-586-7225 to schedule a consultation, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.

Do DUI Checkpoints Deter Drunk Driving?

Do DUI Checkpoints Deter Drunk Driving?

dui checkpoint

There is no doubt that drunk driving is a dangerous practice. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10,500 people died in 2016 in drunk-driving related crashes. Many people believe that more should be done to put an end to drunk driving. While lawmakers and various organizations have played around with numerous different tactics, including anti-drunk driving campaigns, one strategy that has been experimented with is the implementation of DUI checkpoints.

Also called sobriety checkpoints, these stops are highly contested, and opinions about their effectiveness are far from conclusive. For example, an article in The Washington Times explains “why sobriety checkpoints don’t work,” whereas an article published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) claims that “sobriety checkpoints deter impaired drivers.”

Here is a look at the data and evidence regarding whether or not DUI checkpoints really deter drunk driving. If you have been stopped at a DUI checkpoint and are facing DUI charges as a result, call the experienced criminal law attorneys at the Pack Law Group for a consultation about your rights and defense options.

Do DUI Checkpoints Actually Work to Deter Drunk Drivers?

The effectiveness of DUI checkpoints in the deterrence of drunk drivers (not the apprehension of them) is based on the assumption that drunk drivers (or potential drunk drivers) think that there will be a checkpoint. This idea stems from research published in an article  entitled, “Alcohol-Impaired Driving and Perceived Risks of Legal Consequences,” which concluded that the perception of risk was a critical factor in determining whether or not people decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

As an interesting side note, the research also found that license suspension was an extremely ineffective method in preventing drinking while driving. Another study concluded that the fear of being apprehended for drunk driving was more effective in deterring drivers than harsher DUI penalties.

The CDC also strongly advocates for sobriety checkpoints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has completed an analysis of 11 different studies, ultimately concluding that data shows DUI checkpoints reduce alcohol-related fatal injury crashes, injury crashes, and property damage crashes by about 20 percent each. Another analysis concluded that the risk of alcohol-related crashes was reduced by about 17 percent when sobriety checkpoints are used. However, gathering data can be difficult, as it is impossible to make an accurate assumption about the number of potentially impaired drivers who, because of a DUI checkpoint, decided not to drive while impaired.

There is also evidence to the contrary, which suggests that sobriety checkpoints don’t work. To draw from the Washington Times article cited above, many researchers believe that DUI checkpoints slow down traffic, lead to congestion, and irritate drivers, but they don’t actually work in terms of stopping drunk driving. For example, one stop in Ohio screened more than 450 drivers but did not make a single arrest. The conclusion that stops don’t deter drivers, however, based on this evidence alone is specious; perhaps no drivers were caught precisely because the DUI checkpoint was in place, and as such, drunk persons decided not to drive.

What Happens if I’m Stopped at DUI Checkpoint and Have Been Drinking?

You might think that if you are stopped at DUI checkpoint, asked to submit to a field sobriety test, and you are ultimately charged for drunk driving, your legal rights have been violated. After all, don’t police officers have to have probable cause to stop a car?

Most of the time, the answer is yes. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that because the dangers presented by drunk driving are so great, these dangers outweigh the degree of intrusion that is put forth by sobriety checkpoints. As such, you can be stopped without cause, and you may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test or blood or breath alcohol test if police have reason to suspect that you are impaired.

Call Our Virginia DUI Attorneys Today

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Virginia, whether evidence against you was obtained at a DUI checkpoint or not, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Our team at the Pack Law Group is ready to advocate aggressively on your behalf. Please call our law office today for a consultation about how we can build your defense. You can reach us at 540-586-7255, send us a secure and confidential online message, or visit our Bedford office in person.