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SIMMS SHOWERS LLP Leesburg & Loudoun County Attorney
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Virginia Ignition Interlock Requirements For Drunk Drivers


When a person drives under the influence (DUI) or drives while impaired (DWI) in Virginia, they typically lose driving privileges for a period of time. In order to operate a vehicle during the suspension or revocation period, DUI/DWI offenders must utilize an ignition interlock system. These systems help prevent further DUI/DWI incidents by testing the driver before enabling the vehicle to start.

What is an Ignition Interlock System?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270.1 explains the definition of an ignition interlock system. Under this section, an ignition interlock system must:

  • Connect the vehicle’s ignition system to an analyzer that measures the driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC);
  • Prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver registers a BAC above 0.02;
  • Perform rolling retests at random intervals while the driver is operating the vehicle; and
  • Log the driver’s BAC results from every ignition, attempted ignition, and rolling retest.

Under Section 18.2-270.1, the term “rolling retest” refers to randomized tests of the driver’s BAC while operating a vehicle. These tests will force the vehicle’s horn to sound and lights to flash if:

  • The driver fails to take the rolling retest; or
  • The driver registers a BAC above 0.02.

When are Ignition Interlock Systems Required?

Section 18.2-270.1 also details the conditions under which a driver must utilize an ignition interlock system. In order to obtain a restricted license, Virginia law requires ignition interlock systems upon conviction for:

  • Committing DUI/DWI, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266; or
  • Maiming another person as a result of DUI/DWI, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 18.2-51.4.

At a minimum, Section 18.2-270.1 requires ignition interlock systems for six months. Though typically, DUI/DWI offenders must utilize an ignition interlock system throughout their driver’s license suspension or revocation period.

What is the Penalty for Violating Ignition Interlock Rules?

Section 18.2-270.1 also furnishes the penalty for violating ignition interlock system rules. This section prohibits any person from:

  • Starting or attempting to start a vehicle on behalf of the driver to circumvent the ignition interlock system;
  • Tampering with or attempting to tamper with an installed ignition interlock system; or
  • Providing a vehicle without an ignition interlock system to a person required to have such a device on their vehicle.

Any person who violates the rules above will likely face Class 1 misdemeanor charges in Virginia. Upon conviction for these charges, the maximum punishment includes a 12-month jail sentence and $2,500 in criminal fines.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about Virginia charges for DUI/DWI, it can be helpful to contact a Leesburg criminal attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have many years of combined legal experience in criminal defense, including DUI/DWI. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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