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New law: DUI offenders must prove sobriety to drive

December 16, 2012 | Virginia News

Virginians convicted of driving while intoxicated this holiday season will face steeper consequences than they would have last Christmas or New Year's Day, or even just a few months ago.

 

In July, a law took effect that requires convicted first-offense drunken drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle if they want to drive during the first half of their mandatory 12-month license restriction.

An interlock generally is a dashboard-mounted Breathalyzer, with a mouthpiece on a handset that the driver must blow into. It tests blood-alcohol content and will prevent an engine from starting if it detects a particular BAC level.

Interlocks have been in use in Virginia since 1995 but until recently were applied only to repeat offenders, or to those whose BAC measured at or above 0.15 percent, nearly double the legal limit for driving.

Now, however, they are a requirement for anyone convicted of driving with a 0.08 percent BAC or higher, if they want to request a restricted license.

In short, the state has decided it will no longer assume that DUI offenders aren't going to drink and drive again in the first six months after their arrest. It's no longer taking their word for that, and violators now need to be prepared to carry the weight of that distrust.

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