Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Virginia Has New Legislation to Crack Down on Drunk Driving

Joined by firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and numerous transportation safety groups yesterday (Aug. 7), Governor Bob McDonnell signed House Bill 279 (Iaquinto) and its companion Senate Bill 378 (McEachin) to require all individuals convicted of driving under the influence, including first-time offenders, to operate only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device when driving on a restricted license.

Ignition interlock devices will be installed and monitored at the expense of the offender.

Prior to this legislation, Virginia law required ignition interlock devices when the offender's blood alcohol level was 0.15 or greater or after a second or subsequent DUI offense. The legislation went into effect July 1.

Governor McDonnell said, "Last year, 245 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Virginia and another 5,465 were injured. No family should have to hear the news that their loved one was killed or injured by a drunk driver. Just one drunk driver on the road is unacceptable, and I hope that as we spread awareness of this law, that individuals who may otherwise consider driving impaired will be deterred by the consequences of that potentially deadly decision."

"This bill ... will make the Commonwealth's roadways safer for all Virginia families," said Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. "This new law prevents impaired drivers from operating their vehicle, a potentially deadly weapon, on Virginia roads, while allowing offenders to provide for themselves and their families as otherwise productive members of society."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. Similar laws requiring interlock devices for all of those convicted of driving under the influence in Oregon and Arizona have been followed by more than 50 percent decreases in DUI-related deaths in those states.

Legislation Highlights
Provides that a person who is convicted of DUI may drive only with an ignition interlock after the first offense, as a condition of a restricted license and is required to have an ignition interlock installed in each vehicle owned by or registered to him after a second offense

The bill also provides that the court may authorize a restricted license for travel to and from the interlock installer and a person can pre-qualify for an ignition interlock prior to conviction

Currently, the requirement for an ignition interlock is imposed only upon a second or subsequent offense or when the offender's BAC is 0.15 percent or above.

Complete press release from the governor's office.

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