Virginia has long had a tough reputation for penalizing drunk drivers after being convicted. Such laws as mandatory minimum jail sentences, mandatory suspension of your driver’s license and completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) have been in force for many years.
But in 2012, Virginia law got even tougher on convicted drunk drivers. That was the year that HB 279 was signed into law by former Governor McDonnell. Virginia Code Sections 18.27.01 and 18.2-271 were changed to deal with the circumstances when an ignition interlock device must be installed when a restricted license is granted after a DUI conviction.
- Personal Injury or Death Caused by a Drunk Driver
- Fayetteville Woman Killed in Wreck; Driver Charged With DWI
- Could Ignition Interlock Devices Be Causing Distracted Driving Accidents?
Old Law Requirements
The old law stated that the device was required only for DUI convictions where the BAC of the person was .15% or higher, or for a second/subsequent conviction. The court possessed discretion to impose the interlock requirement for a first offense DUI, or a DUI conviction for a BAC of .15% or lower.
New Law Requirements
The new law that went into effect in March 2012 states that an ignition interlock device is required for at least six months for any DUI conviction no matter what the person’s BAC was. Further, the new law states that the vehicle that has the ignition interlock device on it must be driven by an authorized user to the service center for the monthly check, not the defendant.
The new law also states the defendant can prequalify for interlock installation when there is a pending DUI case in a court in Virginia, or if he has enrolled in VASAP before his court date. But the interlock device still may not be installed until the restricted license has been issued. It is common for defendants to misunderstand the law; a judge allowing a restricted license does not mean that it can be used right away. The new rule for ignition interlock devices means that a defendant must usually make at least temporary arrangements to get to work, school or another permitted use until the device can be installed.
As Virginia personal injury attorneys who have represented so many people who have been hurt by drunk drivers, we support the new law in Virginia that makes all convicted drunk drivers have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control state there is a 67% drop in repeat DWIs across the country when the convicted person is required to have an ignition interlock device installed.
Further, Roanoke VA DWI arrests have fallen dramatically since the passing of the new law:
· 2012-13: 474 arrests
· 2013-14: 364 arrests
· 2014-15: 309 arrests
· 2015-16: 215 arrests
· 2016-17: 265 arrests
Our Virginia personal injury attorneys believe that since this bill became law, there is a higher chance of preventing and deterring drunk driving. We support tougher penalties for drunk driving and are proud to represent victims injured in drunk driving, such as this DWI case in Fairfax County that resulted in a $112,000 settlement. Please contact Shapiro & Appleton if you have been injured by a drunk driver, as you could be entitled to compensation.