Joined by firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and numerous transportation safety groups, Governor Bob McDonnell today signed House Bill 279 (Iaquinto) and its companion Senate Bill 378 (McEachin) to require all individuals convicted of driving under the influence, including first-time offenders, to operate only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device when driving on a restricted license. Ignition interlock devices will be installed and monitored at the expense of the offender. Prior to this legislation, Virginia law required ignition interlock devices when the offender's blood alcohol level was 0.15 or greater or after a second or subsequent DUI offense. The legislation went into effect July 1.
Speaking about the legislation signed today, Governor McDonnell said, "Last year, 245 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Virginia and another 5,465 were injured. No family should have to hear the news that their loved one was killed or injured by a drunk driver. When I was a delegate, I successfully advanced legislation to require ignition interlock devices when the offender's blood alcohol level was 0.15 or greater for a first DUI offense. The legislation signed today builds on that measure and requires ignition interlock devices for all drivers convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia. Just one drunk driver on the road is unacceptable, and I hope that as we spread awareness of this law, that individuals who may otherwise consider driving impaired will be deterred by the consequences of that potentially deadly decision. I thank Delegate Iaquinto and Senator McEachin for their leadership on this important public safety issue."
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling said, "I was proud to stand with MADD as an early and vocal advocate for this important legislation, which sends the clear message that we have a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving in Virginia. Drinking and driving is a serious offense that threatens the lives of everyone on the highways and it cannot be tolerated or overlooked. By requiring first time offenders to utilize an ignition interlock device, we can reduce the risk of repeat offenders, keep drivers safe and save lives."
Senator Donald McEachin said, "Ignition interlocks are a tool that helps to deter potential drunk drivers both before and after a DUI conviction. These devices will be paid for by the individuals themselves and allow them to continue to drive to work and provide for themselves and their families, while preventing them from operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. This legislation will save lives in Virginia."
"The only way to ensure that convicted drunk drivers stop harming people is to make sure that they do not drink and drive again," said Delegate Sal Iaquinto. "This bill does that and will make the Commonwealth's roadways safer for all Virginia families."
Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA said, "This new law prevents impaired drivers from operating their vehicle, a potentially deadly weapon, on Virginia roads, while allowing offenders to provide for themselves and their families as otherwise productive members of society. An ignition interlock device does not prevent offenders from going to and from work; it will not interfere with their being productive members of society, it simple prevents them from killing themselves or innocent victims by driving drunk. AAA applauds lawmakers and Governor McDonnell for putting this important new law into place which as it will help keep potential killers off of Virginia roadways; and, there is no doubt that drunk drivers are potential killers."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. Similar laws requiring interlock devices for all of those convicted of driving under the influence in Oregon and Arizona have been followed by more than 50 percent decreases in DUI-related deaths in those states.
Legislation Signed Today
HB279 (Iaquinto) and SB378 (McEachin) Mandatory Ignition Interlock for First-Time DUI Conviction
Provides that a person who is convicted of DUI may drive only with an ignition interlock after the first offense, as a condition of a restricted license and is required to have an ignition interlock installed in each vehicle owned by or registered to him after a second offense
The bill also provides that the court may authorize a restricted license for travel to and from the interlock installer and a person can pre-qualify for an ignition interlock prior to conviction
Currently, the requirement for an ignition interlock is imposed only upon a second or subsequent offense or when the offender's BAC is 0.15 percent or above