Is an Ignition Interlock Device Mandatory in Virginia?

If you have been convicted of DWI in the Commonwealth of Virginia, then yes, an ignition interlock device (IID) is mandatory. While all 50 states and Washington DC have ignition interlock laws, Virginia has some of the stricter laws. Virginia is what’s known as an “all offender” state. That means anyone convicted of DWI, even a first time offender, must get an ignition interlock device installed as a step towards regaining full driving privileges.

An ignition interlock device will prevent you from starting your vehicle if you’ve been drinking. And that’s the whole point of the program — to decrease drunk driving. By now you know an IID is like an in-car breathalyzer. You must give a breath sample before attempting to start the car. If you pass, you can start the car. But if the device detects a breath alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or above, the device will lock the ignition so that you cannot start the car.

And you must also submit to random rolling retests. The device signals you after you have started driving to submit another breath sample. Pass, and you keep driving. Fail or skip the rolling retest, and in Virginia, the device will cause your horn to start honking and your lights to start flashing.

Virginia’s Legal Code on Ignition Interlock Devices

The state of Virginia legal code §18.2- 270.1 spells out the ignition interlock systems and penalties. After a DWI conviction, you must:

  • Install a state-certified IID in each vehicle you own or is registered to you
  • Install an electronic log device in each vehicle
  • Keep the IID(s) installed for at least six months without any alcohol-related program violations
  • Pay all fees and costs associated with the ignition interlock device and monitoring
  • Enroll in the Virginia alcohol safety action program (VASAP)
  • Submit your test results and proof of monthly service visits to VASAP

Employer Exemption

If you drive a company vehicle for work, you are required to notify your employer of your DWI and your restricted driving program. If the court approves and if your employer requests it, they can let you continue to drive a company vehicle while you have your restricted license. They must sign the employer exemption paperwork, and you must keep it with you at all times when you are driving the company vehicle. You are only allowed to drive that vehicle for work purposes.

You are not permitted to drive a commercial vehicle or a school bus for the duration of your restricted driving period.

Indigent Fund

The state of Virginia also requires ignition interlock providers to put a percentage of their fees into a fund set aside to help anyone the court finds to be indigent to pay for all or part of the costs of an ignition interlock system. You are not considered indigent if you have trouble making ends meet because of your DUI. The court will take into account your income, property, and whether you are on any form of public assistance before determining whether you are indigent.

Refusal to install the IID, tampering with, or attempting to circumvent the device are all Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail, maximum of $2500 in fines, or both.

Schedule Your Ignition Interlock Device Installation

ALCOLOCK has ignition interlock device installation locations all across the state of Virginia, from Richmond to Lebanon to Chesapeake to Winchester. To schedule your device installation, simply call the service location most convenient to your work or home. Remember that where you get the installation done is where you will go for your service appointments. You can also call ALCOLOCK directly at (866) 700-9300.

Coordinate with your ride before you pick a day and time for installation, because you will need someone to drive you and your vehicle to the appointment. If someone else will be driving the vehicle while you have your interlock device installed, they should come with you.

Your installation appointment should last about an hour. During that time, the technician will physically install the device in your car, as well as calibrate the device and train you and anyone else how to use it. Your service technician will go over what all of the lights, sounds, and messages mean. You will receive a user’s manual to help you if you forget anything. Before you leave, you will set up your first service visit. In Virginia, those are at least every 30 days and last about 20 minutes.

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