Are Ignition Interlock Devices the “Magic Bullet” for DUI?

According to the Washington Post, 274 Virginia residents died in alcohol-related car crashes in 2010, and over 5,000 were injured. This is a vast improvement over the death-and-injury tolls of past years, but some groups still find it unacceptably high. In an effort to lower the toll, Virginia recently passed a law mandating ignition-interlock devices for anyone convicted of a DUI, even first-time offenders with marginal blood-alcohol levels. If you are unfamiliar, an ignition-interlock device requires the driver to breathe into tube before starting his car; if there's any trace of alcohol on his breath, the ignition won't work.

It's hard to argue against the proposition that ignition-interlock devices prevent DUI. The real question is whether the threat of being forced to install an ignition-interlock device will be enough to deter would-be drunk drivers. These same people are presumably unfazed by the stiff fines, suspensions and revocations of licenses, and possible time in prison that a DUI conviction ordinarily entails.

Before this new law became effective, in July of 2012, only repeat DUI offenders and first-time offenders with blood-alcohol levels of 0.15 percent or higher (twice the legal limit in the state of Virginia) were required to have ignition interlock devices installed if they wished to preserve their driving privileges. The lower bar means that now, more than ever, you need to hire an experienced lawyer if you have been arrested for DUI, and the attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman are available for a free consultation!

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