The cost of getting a DUI is about to get steeper for thousands of first-time offenders in Virginia. Starting July 1, a new state law requires people convicted of their first charge of driving under the influence to drive with an ignition interlock device, which prevents a car from being started when a driver is under the influence. The law previously required interlocks for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher and for second and subsequent offenses of the DUI law. The legal driving limit in Virgina is 0.08 percent.
“When you drive impaired, not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest can be significant,” DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said. “With these new restrictions, even one drink could lead to the expense and embarrassment of having an ignition interlock device on your car.”
DUI conviction costs for a first-time offender in Virginia range from $6,000 to $15,000 over a four-year period, and the interlock law will raise the cost at least hundreds of dollars. Offenders also must take their car to the interlock provider at least every 30 days to have the system checked for any violations.
As of July 1, all first-time offenders who get a restricted license must take part in VASAP’s ignition interlock program for at least six months without any alcohol violations, or longer if a judge requires it. The offender can choose from four state-approved companies to install the system. None of the companies is charging an installation fee, but all four charge about $60 per month to monitor the devices.
When a person with an interlock system wants to start his car, he must blow into the device. The car will not start if the device records anything above 0.02 percent, Larson said. Within 10 to 20 minutes, the driver will have to take another test to make sure he has not started drinking. The “rolling” test can be taken while the person is driving. Rolling tests continue every 20 or 30 minutes. “This is to prevent people from starting the engine and sitting in a bar,” Larson said.
If a person fails the rolling test, the car’s horn and lights will start going off until the driver pulls over and turns off the vehicle. When those enrolled in the ignition interlock program take their vehicle in to have it calibrated, data taken from the device are sent to the offender’s VASAP case manager. If a person is found to have committed an alcohol violation, the offender will have to start over and have the interlock device for another six months.
Times-Dispatch, Published: June 25, 2012 Updated: June 25, 2012 – 8:55 AM
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