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Virginia toughens DUI penalties again

If you’re a Virginia resident, the Commonwealth’s Department of Motor Vehicles wants you to know of several important changes to law taking effect on July 1. We already have some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation, a designation we are sure to keep after the General Assembly stiffened our drunk driving penalties once again.

Every first-time DUI offender will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle (and any other automobile they drive) as a condition of receiving restricted driving privileges, even if a court has not required installation of the device, WCYB reports.

As many readers know, an ignition interlock is a device installed at a vehicle owner’s expense to detect alcohol levels in a driver’s breath. A driver must blow into a tube attached to the device before the vehicle can be started. If the device does not detect an unacceptable level of alcohol in the breath sample, the vehicle can be started up and driven. If an unacceptable level of alcohol is detected, the car can’t be started and a message can be sent by the device to authorities reporting the incident.

The devices cost about $500 for a six-month installation, according to a Washington Post report.

The DMV also announced other changes to laws affecting drivers, including a repeal of the annual hybrid vehicle tax. On July 1, hybrid vehicle owners will no longer have to pay the $64 yearly tax; hybrid registrations before that date will still require payment of the tax.

With the newly tightened DUI penalties, Virginia secures its spot among the toughest states in the U.S. The change in law makes the choice of defense attorney more important than ever for those who have been arrested.

Source: WCYB, “New laws taking effect for drivers in Virginia,” June 11, 2014

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