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New Virginia DUI Laws

Beginning July 1, 2012, there will be a major change for DUI/DWI first offenders in Virginia. For all offenses committed after that date, ignition interlock will become a mandatory requirement if the convicted person wishes to seek a restricted license for all purposes permitted by law. When a person is sentenced for violating Virginia’s DUI/DWI statutes their license (or privilege to operate if a non-Virginia driver) is suspended for one (1) year. The court may then re-issue a restricted license for all purposes permitted by law, including but not limited to: to and from work, school, ASAP classes, medical appointments for oneself or their dependents, and religious services.

Prior to July 1, 2012, that first offender was eligible for full restricted privileges upon payment of fine and court costs and enrollment in the ASAP program. Starting July 1, 2012, ignition interlock for a minimum period of six (6) months becomes a requirement for this restricted privilege. The driver may elect not to drive for a year and the ignition interlock would not be required. However, if a restricted license is requested then ignition interlock, including the costs of installment and maintenance, is mandatory.

Arlington County DUI chargesFor repeat offenders, the ignition interlock becomes a mandatory feature for the restoration of their driving privileges after their extended loss of driving privilege, rather than merely a necessity for being issued a restricted license when eligible.

With these significant changes, it is more important than ever to contact an experienced Virginia DUI attorney immediately.

According to the Washington Post there was some debate before the bill passed that the new penalties that would be enacted with this law are too strict for first time offenders. The new law could potentially quadruple the amount of people that are forced to use the ignition interlock devices. They are not only a major impediment in one’s everyday life, but they are also quite expensive, at roughly $480 for a six-month period. That fee would likely be on top of any fine that the driver is sentenced pay for their DUI infraction.

This new law makes a DUI arrest an even bigger obstacle to overcome, and means it is that much more important for a defendant to acquire the services of a qualified and experienced DUI lawyer to begin handling their defense.