Virginia Bares Down Hard On First Time DUI Offenders

While we’ve all seen laws change dramatically regarding DUI’s and the consequences it seems Virginia is playing hardball with anyone who gets caught driving under the influence. In most states your first offense usually results in fines, sometimes special classes, and maybe even minimal jail or “house arrest” situations if you get a strict judge. Usually these consequences come along with a minimal amount of time given for suspension of your license.

Some states even give people a second chance before bearing down with stiff fines and jail time. In any case, Virginia is one of the few to take a hard stance against DUIs and stand behind their decision with well received decision to require Ignition Interlocks for first time DUI convictions. You don’t get a second chance in Virginia, because a second chance is like a license to kill.

As harsh and blunt as those words seem they are truthful. Few other states have taken these same views on how to handle DUIs; at the time of this writing pretty much only Oregon and Arizona have similar laws.

Not only did Virginia pass a law that requires first time offenders to have the devices installed, but the offender must do so at their own expense and pay the cost for monitoring the devices also. Drivers will also only be allowed to operate vehicles equipped with the special ignition interlock device and under a restricted license.

Before the law was passed on August 7, 2012 their DUI law required offenders whose blood alcohol level was 0.15 or higher or if it was a second time offense to have an ignition interlock installed. Taking a stand against DUIs from the very first offense, the bill was highly backed by EMTs, police, firefighters, and many transportation safety groups.
People who have witnessed first-hand the horrid results of DUIs themselves or worse yet, have been personally affected by the consequences are saying this is long past due in every state.

Governor Bob McDonnell signed the law to go into effect in under 30 days; effective July 1st. They wasted no time showing they were going to take these offenses seriously and there was no reason to tolerate even a first offense. The Governor defended the strict law with numbers, stating that “Last year 245 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Virginia and another 5,465 were injured.”

These ignition interlock devices are proven to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control IID’s reduce drunk driving repeat offences by 67%. Other states which have utilized these devices, Oregon and Arizona, saw a 50% decrease in deaths from DUIs. The lawmakers theory, if they can get killers off the road everyone wins and there’s really no argument that anyone “under the influence” that gets behind the wheel is a potential killer.

Needless to say AAA, MADD, and many other driving or social activist types of groups have supported these laws and feel that more states need to start following suit. DUI is not limited to one or two states, it’s something that occurs throughout all 50 of our states and most people would like to see these stringent laws that crack down and put the responsibility on those who are truly responsible. While nothing works 100%, seeing even a 50% decrease in deaths and thousands fewer injured means the world; especially if that 50% is someone you love that was saved by this one simple but dramatic device.