Getting a charge of driving under the influence in Virginia is frightening. You may have a fear of how a conviction and license suspension might impact your ability to drive to work or to run required errands.
A new law, Virginia Code § 18.2-270.1(C), now permits many people convicted of a first-offense DUI to continue driving just as before, as long as they have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle. An IID is designed to disable a vehicle if the operator has a 0.02% BAC or greater. The operator must give a breath sample whenever starting the vehicle.
The new law softens prior driving restrictions
Since driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to property damage, serious injury or death for the driver, passengers and others on the road, state legislatures have enacted laws with severe consequences for this behavior. In Virginia, a conviction for a first time DUI offender includes the loss of one’s license for a period of one year. Historically, although restricted licenses were available to those convicted of a 1st offense DUI, they drastically limited the types of driving permitted. While drivers were allowed to drive to work and job interviews, religious houses of worship, daycare and school, as well as medical appointments, restricted licenses literally did not allow trips to the grocery store, a gas station, or other places that drivers ordinarily frequented in their daily lives.
However, as of July 1, 2020 a new Virginia state law eliminated these restrictions for many people convicted of a 1st offense DUI.
The new law comes with conditions
If you are a first-time DUI offender, and at the time of your arrest you had a blood alcohol content reading of less than 0.15%, you may now ask the court for a restricted license that does not include the previous location constraints. To maintain this restricted license, there are certain conditions you must follow for a period of 12 months:
- Each and every time you get behind the wheel, you must be operating a vehicle with an IID. This means that if you own multiple vehicles, you should strongly consider installing an IID on each automobile.
- Proof that the IID has been monitored and calibrated every 30 days must be submitted to the Virginia Alcohol Action Safety Program. (A third-party vendor normally handles this.)
- In addition, you must drive carefully to avoid receiving any more moving violations for the 12 months during which your license is suspended.
If you fail to comply with these conditions, the court could revoke your restricted license, and, if revoked, you would no longer be able to drive at all.