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Virginia Ignition Interlock Device Laws

Aug. 31, 2019

When you are convicted of certain crimes, you may have your driving license suspended. One specific crime is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). This type of crime can result in an administrative license suspension, which takes effect regardless of the criminal case against you, and then – if convicted of a DUI – license suspension is part of the penalty of the criminal conviction.

If you request a restricted driver's license, which you can use to get to work, school, etc., you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) into any vehicle you drive, regardless of whether you own it, co-own it, or simply operate it. Here, we provide you with a better understanding of IIDs because – though they are meant to monitor driving and drinking and allow alleged DUI offenders to drive to/back from certain places – the devices are not foolproof and can land you in unintended trouble.

Ignition Interlock Devices: What They Are

Ignition interlock devices (IID) are instruments that act similar to breathalyzers. The device is installed into any vehicle you drive. Before the vehicle will start, you must blow a breath sample into the device, and when you do, the device takes a photo of the driver. The IID analyzes the breath sample, and if there are no signs of alcohol, the vehicle will start. If there are traces of alcohol that amount to .02% blood alcohol content (BAC), the device prevents the vehicle from starting.

Once the car starts, there is a rolling retest that – while driving – will require you to breathe into the device every 20-30 minutes. The rolling retest, according to § 18.2-270.1:

triggers the sounding of the horn and flashing of lights if (i) the test indicates that the operator has a blood alcohol content which exceeds 0.02 percent or (ii) the operator fails to take the test.

The IID has an electronic log that tracks your BAC alongside the photo of the driver at the time of ignition, attempted ignition, and rolling retests.

Virginia's Ignition Interlock System: How It Works

Virginia Code section 18.2 – 270.1 governs ignition interlock device use in Virginia. Each convicted DUI offender who is granted a restricted driver's license must have an IID installed for a minimum of six months. You must also pay for the installation and maintenance of the IID. Monthly monitoring fees run around $80.00.

After the court orders an ignition interlock device, you are to report to the local Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP). There, you will be given a list of approved IID vendors to call and make an appointment. The IID must be installed typically within 30 days after the order is issued. Every 30 days thereafter, until you are no longer required to drive with the device, you must have the IID updated and calibrated.

While in use, the electronic log is reported on a regular basis to ASAP. Along with a complete log of all start-ups, attempts to start-up, and rolling test results, any tampering with the IID is also recorded. ASAP personnel will review these logs, making sure all requirements are being met and addressing any concerns raised by the log.

Tampering with IIDS in Virginia

If you tamper with the IID or violate the IID requirements, you can face penalties. These penalties include:

  • revocation of driving privileges for 12 months for a first-time violation; and

  • revocation of driving privileges for 36 months for second or subsequent violations.

This means you lose the restricted driving privileges who had and which required an IID installation into your vehicle. As a result, you will not be permitted to drive at all during the 12 - 36 month period.

Plus, tampering or attempting to drive while intoxicated can lead to additional criminal charges.

Problems with Ignition Interlock Devices

Unfortunately, there are known problems with IIDs. For starters, if the device stops working properly, you won't be able to get to work, school, etc.

But worse are the false readings or incorrect data logged by the devices. False readings could be the result of a defective IID or it can be the result of the driver blowing into the machine after eating certain foods, taking certain medicines, or using mouthwash, among other things.

Also, due to the required rolling retests, these devices have been known to distract drivers and cause accidents.

If any of the above have affected you, you need to speak to your attorney to (1) make sure you are not held accountable for the machine's faults; and (2) fight any new allegations that may be laid against you.

Contact an Experienced DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney in Charlottesville VA Today

As an experienced DUI and criminal defense attorney, Bryan J. Jones can help you fight a DUI charge so you don't have to worry about an IID requirement in the first place or can help make sure that if you are required to have an IID, things go smoothly so that you do not have to fight new allegations. Contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC today to schedule a consultation and learn more about his approach to criminal defense.