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What Is The Virginia Approach To Ignition Interlock Systems For DUI Offenses?


When a person commits driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Virginia, there are significant criminal consequences. For both misdemeanor and felony versions of DUI, an offender can face criminal fines, a jail sentence, and driver’s license suspension. During the license suspension period, though, certain DUI offenders may obtain restricted driving privileges by installing an ignition interlock system.

What is the Purpose of an Ignition Interlock System?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270.1 explains the purpose of ignition interlock systems. These types of systems:

  • Connect a device that measures blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) to the vehicle’s ignition system;
  • Require a driver to submit to BAC testing before the vehicle will start;
  • Prevent the vehicle from starting, if the driver registers a BAC of 0.02 or more;
  • Perform rolling retests while the driver is operating their vehicle; and
  • Register BAC results for each ignition, attempted ignition, and rolling retests.

In this context, the term “rolling retest” has a specific definition. To perform a rolling retest, an ignition interlock system must able to:

  • Trigger randomly required BAC tests while a driver is operating their vehicle; and
  • Flash the lights and sound the horn, if the driver fails to take the test or registers a BAC of 0.02 or more.

When is it Required to Install an Ignition Interlock System?

Under Section 18.2-270.1, ignition interlock systems are typically required after a conviction for:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266; or
  • Committing DUI and hurting, maiming, or impairing a victim, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 18.2-51.4.

Upon conviction for either of the above offenses — and as a condition of obtaining a restricted license — installation of an ignition interlock system is required under Section 18.2-270.1.

How Long is it Required to Maintain an Ignition Interlock System?

In most cases, Section 18.2-270.1 requires use of an ignition interlock system for a period of time that:

  • Lasts for at least six months; and
  • Does not exceed the period of driver’s license suspension.

That being said, repeat DUI offenders must maintain an ignition interlock system for a longer period of time. Such offenders must use an ignition interlock system for a minimum of 12 months without any substance-related incidents.

What is the Penalty for Violating Ignition Interlock System Requirements?

When a person obtains a restricted license after installing an ignition interlock system, they must use that system to operate a motor vehicle. Circumventing or tampering with an ignition interlock system is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The same is true for operating a motor vehicle without using the required, installed ignition interlock system during the suspension period.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you need legal assistance with criminal charges for DUI in Virginia, contact a reliable Leesburg criminal defense attorney at Simms Showers LLP. Our attorneys are prepared to assist you today.

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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

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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