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Do ignition interlock devices work?

If one doesn't get you, the other one will. That's Virginia's tough approach to drunk driving offenses. If you are convicted of a first DUI offense, the court will often require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on at least one vehicle. If the court doesn't order installation of the device, the Commonwealth of Virginia says on its website that the Department of Motor Vehicles will. (The cost of those devices is about $500 for a six-month installation and rental.)

A February 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the devices work. The interlocks help reduce the number of subsequent DUIs for first offenders and they also help cut down the number of offenses committed by repeat offenders.

Interlock ignition devices have been around more than 20 years, the NHTSA says. The devices include a breath alcohol sensor, a tamper-proof mounting system and a data recording system.

Once it's installed, the NHTSA says, many drivers will initially attempt to tamper with it. They try to "fool" the system with false breath samples and by trying to remove or disconnect the device. Once they realize that these attempts have not only failed, but been recorded (and might well result in further sanctions against the DUI offender), they cease efforts to thwart the devices.

Some drivers simply circumvent the devices by driving vehicles not equipped with them. This is, of course, another violation of the law. If caught, the drivers face additional punishment.

The NHTSA says surveys of DUI offenders show that though they don't care for the devices, DUI offenders acknowledge that the interlocks do help reduce drunk driving incidents. Offenders' families reportedly echo those sentiments.

Those facing Virginia's harsh drunken driving penalties should speak with a Loudoun County experienced attorney. 

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