DUI Convictions & Ignition Interlock Devices: What You Should Know

ignition interlock device drunk driving Virginia

DUI Convictions & Ignition Interlock Devices: What You Should Know

Drunk driving is a serious offense, and if you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Virginia, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer for your car that you blow into before you turn the key. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is too high, meaning you’ve been drinking, you will not be able to start your car. The device measures your BAC at the time of ignition and also during random rolling tests.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Work?

An ignition interlock device is hardwired into your vehicle’s ignition system and works using an ethanol fuel cell to measure the amount of alcohol in your blood.  The device is installed in the front of the vehicle near the driver’s seat. To operate it, blow into the mouth piece and follow the device-specific instructions. If the device measures a BAC above the pre-programmed amount, which is 0.02% in Virginia, the fuel cell opens a relay, preventing the completion of the ignition system circuit. The open circuit means that your car will not turn over. When used correctly, ignition interlock devices prevent a vehicle from being driven under the influence, enforcing good driving habits and lowering the risk of repeat offenses.

How Much Does an Ignition Interlock System Cost?

The cost of an ignition interlock device varies depending on a number of factors. Some device models are more expensive than others, and there can be additional charges beyond the cost of the unit. You may have to pay hourly labor costs to the technician installing your device. Even your specific car can factor into the cost of your ignition interlock device, because some vehicle ignition systems are more complex than others. Generally, you can expect to pay around $500 for a six-month installation. The Virginia state minimum ignition interlock device duration after a DUI charge is six months, but this can be extended for subsequent offenses.

Ignition Interlock Policies for DUI Offenders in Virginia

Virginia has one of the country’s toughest drunk driving penalties, requiring that all DUI offenders, no matter their BAC at the time of offense, install an ignition interlock device and recording log in their vehicles. But what can you expect from the time you’re pulled over to the first time you breathe into your car’s new breathalyzer?

  • First, you’ll have to make your court appearance, where the judge will tell you to trade your current license for a restricted one, and order you to install an interlock device before you can do so.
  • After you report to your local Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) location, you’ll be given a list of ignition interlock vendors. Let your ASAP know which vendor you want to use, and they will send in the proper paperwork.
  • Make an installation appointment with the vendor, and submit your proof of installation to the ASAP.
  • When the ASAP manager has what they need to prove that you have an interlock device installed in your car, they will alert the DMV, so you can go get your restricted license and drive your vehicle. Just remember to visit your ASAP office regularly for device maintenance and adherence with your program.

Penalties for Tampering with an Ignition Interlock Device

On first glance, it may seem easy to get around a vehicle’s ignition interlock device. However, any person who attempts to bypass an interlock device by tampering with it or blowing into the analyzer for the driver is subject to a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge. Even lending a vehicle not equipped with an interlock device to a person on a DUI restricted license is a chargeable offense.

Each ignition interlock device requires maintenance service every 30 days, and you are required to submit proof of regular maintenance to your ASAP manager. Failure to do so will result in revocation of driving privileges.

Subsequent DUI Offenses

It is possible for a sober person to fail an ignition interlock device test, but these BAC test failures are easy to correct by submitting a new, clean breath test within 15 minutes of the failed attempt. Each device also allows for 15 minutes to retake a rolling test, as it’s not always safe to operate an interlock device while driving. However, if you have been drinking and blow a result of 0.02% BAC or higher, your vehicle’s log will reflect this, and the court will be notified.

If you are convicted of another DUI within five years of your first offense, the punishment is a mandatory $500 fine and imprisonment of not less than one month, 10 days of which is the mandatory minimum sentence. Your BAC level factors into subsequent punishments, with more jail time being required for BACs over 0.20 and less for under 0.20.

Call the DUI Attorney Virginia Beach Trusts

Virginia has cracked down on DUI offenses in recent years, but the ignition interlock device process is a relatively easy part of the punishment. Proper compliance with device operation and working with your ASAP manager will get you through your DUI punishment without further penalty. If you have questions about your case, call the experienced professionals of Swango Law P.C. at (757) 383-9229.

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