Driving while under the influence and driving while intoxicated are charges that can carry multiple penalties in Virginia. The state takes traffic laws seriously, which means that even first offenders may be required to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicles following conviction.
It is important that you understand how ignition interlock devices work and how long you can expect to use them before you return to your regular driving. A skilled attorney may be able to help you reduce the time required for your ignition interlock, or even negotiate the use of the device in exchange for greater driving privileges after a DUI.
What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is an electronic device that is fitted into a vehicle, typically around the ignition area where the key is inserted in order to start the vehicle. Any time that a driver attempts to operate the vehicle, they must blow into a removable breathalyzer that ensures they are not driving while under the influence.
The electronic device will calculate the person’s intoxication level based on their breath, and the vehicle will not start if they are deemed to be unfit to drive. Ignition interlock devices are often required after a DUI conviction to ensure that the individual does not continue to drive while under the influence.
What Situations Result In An Ignition Interlock Requirement?
Even your first DUI offense typically requires the installation of an ignition interlock device as part of your newly restricted driving privileges. In cases of multiple DUIs, such as a second or third offense within 10 years of the previous offense, you will also be required to install an ignition interlock into not only your primary vehicle but all other vehicles that you may operate.
The duration of time that the device remains in the vehicle will depend on the court’s judgment and whether it is your first offense. Some individuals may avoid having to pay for an ignition interlock device for their first DUI charge if they elect not to pursue a restricted license and instead accept a total license revocation. This will prevent them from driving at all, for any reason.
How Long Do I Need An Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is generally installed for multiple months as part of your ability to drive under a restricted license, if you have been granted this option by the court. A restricted license grants specific permissions for driving, such as commuting directly to and from work or to required medical appointments.
In the case of a first offense in which the convicted individual requests a restricted license, the typical requirement is to install an ignition interlock device for 6 months. This is mandatory minimum; a court may elect to extend the required period of time at its discretion. An attorney can help you negotiate this agreement with the court.
If you have been convicted of multiple DUIs, you may expect to use an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least a year. Additionally, this requirement may be imposed upon you even for your first DUI conviction if your blood alcohol content was found to be very high; generally, this level is considered to be .15 or higher.
In some instances, it is possible to negotiate the use of an ignition interlock device as part of a greater strategy for a restricted license.
As of July 1, 2020, an individual whose blood alcohol is under .15 may agree to accept an ignition interlock device in their vehicle(s) for an entire year (as opposed to the general 6 months for first offenders) in exchange for removing some of the restrictions on their driver’s license.
This may enable them to drive anywhere they like rather than being forced to abide by the stringent requirements of a restricted license, such as the mandate that they may only drive directly to work and then directly home. For those with other obligations, this may be a valuable compromise.
Work With An Attorney To Reduce Potential Penalties And Get Driving Sooner
If you have been charged with a DUI, be sure to reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible. An attorney being proactive on your behalf can sometimes help you to secure more favorable terms for the use of your ignition interlock device, such as having it on for the minimum required time or negotiating more comprehensive driving privileges under a restricted license. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to help you explore your options. Reach out to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.