Sunday, September 2, 2012

Virginia law will impose interlock devices on more DUI drivers

On behalf of The Law Offices of Daniel J Miller posted in Drunk Driving on Thursday, April 26, 2012

Penalties for DUI in Virginia can be tough, and they will get tougher this year for some convicted of drunk driving. The Virginia General Assembly has passed a law that, starting this July, will require everyone convicted of DUI to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car. This penalty will apply regardless of whether the person's blood alcohol content was just over the legal limit or whether it was a first-time offense.

Virginia law does currently impose ignition interlocks as a penalty for drunk driving. But it is reserved for those with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.15 or those with multiple DUI offenses. Advocates say that stiffer penalties are needed to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents in our state. But others, including defense lawyers, note that the fees mandated by the law will place an unfair burden on those with smaller incomes.

Ignition interlock devices can be expensive, but the new law omits the power for judges to lower or eliminate the fees based on a defendant's financial circumstances. And without an ignition interlock device, a person convicted of DUI will be ineligible for a restricted license, which enables a person to drive to work and a limited set of other locations.

Others suggest that the ignition interlock law will create a disincentive for defendants to accept a plea agreement because they will have to install an ignition interlock as a consequence. Instead, more defendants may choose to go to trial in an attempt to avoid the interlock device. This new incentive structure highlights the need for defendants to seek experienced trial counsel in DUI cases.

Source: The Washington Post, "Is Va.'s ignition-interlock rule for first-time DUI offenders too tough?" Justin Jouvenal, April 8, 2012.

Tags: DUI, drunk driving, ignition interlock devices, legislation

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