Ignition Interlock in Virginia: Laws, Statistics, Penalties

Ignition interlock in Virginia: Laws, statistics, penalties

In representing victims of drunk drivers, I have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. As states across the country continue to pass tougher laws to combat this deadly problem, we have fortunately seen a decline in the number of deaths and injuries. However, the statistics are still alarming: In Virginia, 264 people died from alcohol-related crashes in 2019. In addition, 18,648 DUIs were issued, as reported by the Virginia DMV. Experts estimate that about one in every six Virginians will be involved in an alcohol-related crash during their lifetime.

Given the numbers of deaths and injuries, it is easy to see why the Virginia General Assembly has enacted a series of stricter drunk driving laws over the past several years.

Now, if a driver is convicted of drunk driving for the second time within a 10-year time period, then that driver will be required to install an ignition interlock. This is a condition for license restoration after the 5-10 year revocation period. The device must be installed for 6 months. If a driver is caught driving without the ignition interlock device, then they will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.00)

drunk driver kets with a tumbler of whiskey

An ignition interlock is a mechanical device that is installed to a car’s dashboard. It works much like a breathalyzer. A driver must first exhale into the device before being allowed to start the car. If their breath alcohol concentration is more than the programmed alcohol concentration, usually .02 or .04%, then the engine will not start.

Enhanced punishments offered by our criminal justice system are obviously helpful in combating drunk driving. However, it is clear that criminal statutes alone are not enough. The civil justice system also allows jurors to hold drunk drivers accountable for their dangerous, often deadly, choices and to send a loud and clear message that this conduct will not be tolerated. Hopefully, with the criminal and civil justice systems working together, we will significantly deter this scourge and make our roads safer.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver through no fault of your own, call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation at 866-388-1307.