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If a person is facing a DUI charge in Virginia, there are many potential penalties depending on the severity of the infraction and what happened during the incident. One possible penalty can be an ignition interlock device being placed on the drunk driver's vehicle. When facing this possibility, it's important to understand the details of the law of this punitive tactic.

The ignition interlock device is a machine that is installed on a vehicle. It will link the ignition to an analyzer that will measure the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood. If it registers 0.02 percent, the vehicle won't start. This machine also has what is known as a "rolling retest." The driver will have to take the test again at certain intervals to ensure that alcohol wasn't consumed from the time of one test to the subsequent tests. These retests are done randomly. If alcohol is detected during the rolling retest, the vehicle's horn will begin to honk and its lights will start to flash. This will happen if the BAC is above 0.02 percent or if the driver doesn't take the test when asked to do so.

A person who has been convicted of maiming another while driving under the influence or has operated an engine while intoxicated will be driving with a restricted license and will not be allowed to drive a vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock device installed. The length of time for this penalty will be for at least six months. When the order is issued that the ignition interlock device is part of the punishment, the device must be installed within 30 days of the order. It must be calibrated and monitored to make certain that it works properly every month. The offender is responsible for these costs. The license can be rescinded if these mandates are not adhered to. It is also illegal for a person other than the penalized driver to start the vehicle.

The ignition interlock device might sound as if it's a relatively light penalty for a driver who surpassed the legal limit of alcohol in the system and was convicted, but it is in reality expensive and inconvenient. The preferable conclusion to those facing a DUI charge is to seek an acquittal. When charged, the first step is to discuss the matter with a legal representative experienced in defending clients for DUI.

Source:, "18.2-270.1. Ignition interlock systems; penalty," accessed on May 18, 2015

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