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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog

New VA DUI and Ignition Interlock Laws for July 2021

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Oct 07, 2021

Several new laws that went into effect on July 1 will make a big difference for those convicted of a first-offense DUI in Virginia. Senate bill 439 and House Bill 1336 both passed and with their passage comes a significant reduction in requirements and punishments for those convicted of first-offense DUIs. I'll tell you more about the new laws below, but it's important to keep in mind that many people facing a first-offense DUI will still benefit from working with a Prince William County DUI attorney. If you find yourself in this situation, Kassabian & Kassabian may be able to help, so please direct any questions about your rights after a DUI conviction to John Kassabian for a free consultation.

First-Offense DUIs and License Restriction

Under Virginia law, both first-time and repeat offenders convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol immediately will have their driving privileges suspended. To continue driving legally, one has to petition the court for a restricted driver's license to  allow the individual to drive for necessary purposes as specifically set-forth by statute, to include travel to and from your place of employment; to and from an alcohol rehabilitation or safety action program; travel during the hours of employment when the operation of your vehicle is necessary for your employment; travel to and from school if you are a student and with written verification that you are enrolled in a continuing program for education; travel for health care services for yourself, an elderly parent or any person residing in your household with a serious medical problem upon written verification of a need of health care services by a license professional; travel necessary to transport a minor child under your care to and from school, day care, and facilities housing medical service providers; travel to and from court-ordered visitation; travel to and from a screening, evaluation and education programs entered pursuant to court order; travel to and from court appearances in which you are subpoenaed as a witness or a party; travel to and from appointments with your probation officer and to programs required by the court as a condition of probation; travel to and from your place of religious worship one day per week; travel to and from appointments approved by the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Social Services; travel to and from jail to serve a jail sentence when such sentence is ordered by the court to be served on the weekend or non-consecutive days; travel to and from the facility that installed or monitors the ignition interlock device in your vehicle; travel to and from a job interview; or travel to and from the offices of the Virginia Employment Commission for the purpose of seeking employment.  

In 2020, restricted license laws began to change dramatically, so that today first offenders no longer have to list and qualify with the court any or all of the above enumerated conditions when they petition the court for a restricted license after a DUI conviction. In fact, first time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of less than .15 can now drive anywhere and for any reason once they obtain a restricted driving license from the court after a DUI finding. 

There's only one catch: the convicted party must install an ignition interlock system on their vehicle for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. During this time, the driver cannot be convicted of any additional alcohol-related offense to include tampering with or any ignition interlock violations. The system must also be maintained, including a calibration every 30 days and submission of proof that the system is operating properly to the Alcohol Safety Action Program. While this is longer than the previous 6-month requirement, it grants drivers significantly more freedom, so the change has been welcomed by many.

Legal Changes for Repeat Offenders

Another change as of July 1 is that not just first offenders, but repeat offenders as well, can now receive a restricted license in exchange for agreeing to use an alcohol monitoring device, abstain from using alcohol, have an ignition interlock system in their vehicle, and participate in Virginia's alcohol safety program (VASAP). A remote alcohol monitoring device is different from an ignition interlock system: it is a device an individual wears or uses to report their BAC regularly.

It is important to note that anyone (including first offenders) who tampers with a remote alcohol monitoring device will be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if convicted. That charge carries up to $2500 in fines, up to 12 months in jail, and will remain permanently on your criminal record. This charge can seriously jeopardize your ability to drive your vehicle freely, so get in touch with a DUI lawyer in Prince William County if you find yourself in this situation.

When a Prince William County Criminal Attorney May be of Help

If you are facing DUI charges, a DUI defense attorney can often be very helpful in resolving your case favorably. From reducing charges, fines, sentences, to helping you secure and maintain a restricted license, or from obtaining a dismissal of the charge; an experienced well accomplished lawyer can be invaluable in restoring your privileges and your freedom.

John Kassabian has been serving Prince William County for over 25 years, including years serving as a Prince William County prosecutor. This means he has in-depth knowledge of DUI cases and how to ensure y

our rights are protected and your case is thoroughly analyzed to obtain a favorable outcome in court.

If you have questions about your charges, your license, or other factors in your case, get in touch with John for a free case review with a qualified DUI attorney serving Prince William County. Call 703-750-3622.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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