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Senate requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers

RICHMOND – Opponents of drunken driving are applauding the Senate for passing a bill to require even first-time DUI offenders in Virginia to install a device to prevent them from operating their vehicle while intoxicated.

The Senate approved House Bill 279 on a 26-13 vote Wednesday. It would require Virginia drivers to have an ignition interlock installed after their first DUI offense. Currently, the devices are required only after a second or subsequent DUI conviction.

An ignition interlock requires a motorist to blow into a Breathalyzer before starting the car and at random intervals while driving. The car won’t start if the driver’s blood alcohol content is above .02 percent.

“This is the sixth year in which ignition interlock legislation for all DUI offenders has been introduced in Virginia’s General Assembly,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcoholic Program, which campaigns against drunken driving.

“Virginia’s patience with the more than 29,000 drivers in the state annually convicted of driving under the influence has worn thin.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 30,000 DUI offenders were convicted in Virginia in 2010. That’s more than three convictions every hour.

Erickson said ignition interlocks are effective in stopping people from driving while under the influence of alcohol.

“If, before attempting to start their vehicle, the device senses a set amount of alcohol, the vehicle will not start,” Erickson said. “If a running retest senses a set amount of alcohol, the vehicle’s horn will sound, along with its headlights flashing, in order to draw the attention of law enforcement.”

HB 279, sponsored by Delegate Salvatore Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach, won approval from the House of Delegates on Feb. 9. It would require anyone convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock. (Under the law, any driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above is considered intoxicated.)

But some drama surrounded the bill when it moved to the Senate. The Senate Courts of Justice Committee changed the bill so that, for first-time offenders, it applied only if the BAC was 0.12 or higher.

However, the Senate rejected the committee’s modification of the bill and passed the House version.

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving was glad senators refused to water down HB 279.

“The committee amendment that the Senate rejected on Wednesday would have made the legislation weaker,” said Chris Konschak, manager of the Virginia office of MADD. “The Senate demonstrated that they are committed to eliminating drunk driving in Virginia, and mandatory ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders is a step in that direction.”

WRAP agreed.

“By capturing a combined, more than 80 percent of their vote, Virginia lawmakers have sent to Gov. (Bob) McDonnell legislation deploying proven effective technology to combat drunk driving in the commonwealth,” Erickson said.


Since Romney will not drink it I’ll have a victory beer or 3 in his stead and get a ride home!

Lostcause, morestupidpeople We should lock you and your parents up for doing a lousy job in bringing you up. A 4 week adjustment period sounds like it will dry you out.

I don’t drink and drive, I might hit a bump and spill it! Thank God I don’t drive a car registered in my name! Fix that one. Put a rice sized GPS chip into my shoulder to find meeeeee!

Alcoholism is hereditary in my family. Should I sign-up now?

For The Win… the interlock company just cashed in. All those lobbying dollars were worth it. Next stop, ignition locks for everyone! Why risk it. Your life is legislated and there is no limit to how invasive it is, especially if you are not a DUI candidate. Just wait for these things to fail and you can’t drive you car, for your safety, because the device has failed (don’t worry, the police have already been called to arrest you for trying to start your car). Then there is the annual fee for inspecting the to be integrated device. But when it fails, it is you, the sober driver who need to pay for its repair, because it is part of your car. Now if only you could drive it to the shop to be repaired (maybe the towing industry lobbied some too, because you will need to tow a car with a dead interlock).

Seriously, people need to wake up and find a DD if they are having any amount of alcohol. Cab rides are a good investment, but the interlock has a lot of unanswered questions in my mind.

I am single minded and I want to deter Joseph and Josephine from making the mistake of driving when drunk. 6 months no pleas! Harsh yes but so are accidents that involves injuries to people or property. If your facing 6 months in jail only the dumbest person in the world would drive, 99.9% would make a effort to find other transportation. As it is now people still are willing to buck the system , 6 months and charge them $12,000 for the incarceration time!

I do not advocate driving impaired and recognize DUIs are a highway menace.  However, the old law was fine for dealing with chronic DUI issues.  The majority of first time offenders are your average, everyday “joe/josephine” who made a one time mistake with a .06-.10 BAC (*).  The requirement to install an interlock on all DUI’s is a pander to the single-minded lobbies who have lost their founding objectives and become money-making anti-alcohol zealots.  This law will probably deter a minority but in reality, its most serious effect will be to clog the courts with a trial for every case - far fewer pleas.
(*) - yes, you can be convicted of DUI under .08 BAC.

I agree, start from the showroom floor.

Why wait for the first drunk driving conviction?  The unit cost would undoubtedly be less if car manufacturers included them as standard equipment on all cars.

How is this a nanny state? These so called drunk drivers commited a felony and need to punished and watched. How about your asinine morality statement when a repeat offender does some damage? Aren’t you the poster related to Virgin Abilly

Dr.Phipps….Tee Hee!

Those stinki’ Democrats. The next thing you know, we’ll have to put diapers on our dogs!

This is ridiculous.  More nanny state garbage from the morality police.

What’s wrong with a little chat and Jack while careening down the Dulles Toll Road??? I like to eat a big, sloppy chili dog while I’m at it. Got to make the Airport Cops earn their pay since the State gave them increased jurisdiction. I still don’t get how what essentially is a private police force gets to enforce laws off that property. These guys are like the slot machines of police departments. I wonder how much revenue they get to keep? How come that’s not paying for the much maligned “Lead Line”? I changed the name because “Silver” implies it has some value. This…not so much.

Damm your awful negative here and how do you know so much about being mentally challenged? Cars should be made to block phone and text messages from being sent or recieved while the car is in motion. Add something?

Put drunk drivers on the stocks and have little kids throw rotten eggs and tomatoes at them! This is a complete waste of time and dangerous too! When driving the device will kill the motor if not attended to. How stupid is this? Fumbling around and taking your attention off the road to keep it from killing the motor, and then the bells and whistles go off. I don’t drink and drive, but I know a failed plan when I see one. I love the stupid comments from the mentally challenged!

I agree with this new law, but just think how many cops will have to have one installed in their patrol cars, or pilots on planes, or bus drivers. Something does need to be done about texting also.  and again cops are not/should not be exempt.

What’s your solution there native one? Maybe too much inbreeding has caused a loss of coherent thought processes from you and your lineage?

jailbait and steven are idiots.

I second what “cell phones must go” and “just a thought” wrote.  And no, I’m not the alter-ego of either.

ok, so why not do the same thing for people texting?
I ride motorcycle and i have stopped because of the people texting while driving.
cutting me off, weaving in and out of lanes, speeding up slowing down,
pull up next to the offender and they are texting, not looking at the road.
who is worse? the drunk, or someone texting while driving?

The ignition interlock shouldn’t matter.  The first time your convicted of DUI or DWI you should lose your license for life.  I don’t care how you get to your job, I don’t care if it causes an inconvenience and I don’t care if you only had “one” drink.  Driving while intoxicated is unjustifiable and it needs to be met with the strictest penalty.

This will add $200 a month to every sentence and the interlock may screw up the electrical system in some vehicles.

Can we include “texters” in the bill. A DWT (driving while texting)should carry equal weight under the law.

OK, how does this apply to teens who drink and drive? I like Jailbait’s idea…for all ages.

How about a mandatory 6 moth jail sentence for 1st time drunk drivers? No plea bargins, no time off for good behavior, no politician rate and no diplomat immunity. 6 months first time you fail, 9 months the second time and so on. That’s how you stop drunk driving. I sure would think long and hard before I got behind the wheel after drinking.

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