Virginia has some of the harshest penalties for drunk driving in the nation. Even first-time offenders can have their driving privileges suspended for a year. Many can drive before a year is up, but must do so with a restricted license.
Virginia courts can also require drivers to have an auto ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles as a condition of receiving a restricted license. These devices require drivers to blow into a chemical breath test machine before they can start the vehicle’s motor. If the device senses alcohol on their breath, the vehicle will not start. Furthermore, drivers are required to check in periodically while the car is running, in order to show they are still sober.
In addition to the obvious inconvenience, it’s also expensive to have one of these devices installed. A six-month installation can cost $500 or more.
As with most DUI penalties, the ignition interlock requirements get tougher with repeat offenses. After a second offense within 10 years, the requirement can be mandatory for every vehicle the driver owns, co-owns or operates. Even the court doesn’t require this, the DMV probably will before it gives the driver a restricted license.
The ignition interlock requirements are just part of the picture when it comes to DUI penalties in Virginia. Those convicted can also expect steep fines and possible jail time after even a first offense.
Safety advocates say these steep penalties are necessary to make Virginia roads safer. However, it’s important to remember that people accused of drunk driving offenses have the right to a defense, and it’s wise for them to seek out the best defense attorney they can find.
An attorney with experience in DUI defense can help people understand their rights and legal options to protect their driving privileges, their freedom and their future.