In response to deaths and injuries related to drinking and driving, the Virginia General Assembly has enacted tighter laws regarding driving under the influence.
One major change associated with the tighter laws is that repeated offenders are required to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle. Specifically, if a driver violates the 10 year no tolerance statute, he or she has to have the device installed after a license suspension. Recently, Virginia decided to extend the no tolerance period to 10 years instead of the original period of five years.
The license suspension for repeat DUI offenders remains at three years. However, in order to regain driving privileges, the driver will have to have the device installed for a six month period. Driving a vehicle without one will make the driver subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor and up to 12 months in jail and more than $2,000 in fines.
These legislation changes have been in effect since January 1, 2009. Virginia is among a growing number of states that require the use of ignition interlock devices. However, each state has implanted the policy in a different manner. Some states, such as California, leave the decision of whether or not a device should be installed up to a judge.
Interlock laws such as these could soon become obsolete as advances are made in GPS and tracking systems in cars. Nissan has already introduced a concept car that detects if a driver is drunk by monitoring his or her pupils and response time.
Ignition interlock devices can be expensive for drivers, totaling nearly $1,500 per year on average.