Thomas Soldan On Restricted Licenses and Ignition Interlock
Below is excerpted from an interview with Virginia DUI attorney Thomas Soldan.
How Can You Acquire A Restricted License in Virginia?
Thomas Soldan: When someone is convicted of a DUI and loses either their Virginia driving privilege or their Virginia driver’s license for 12 months, their license is suspended. They can then be reissued a license on a restricted basis. The restricted license statute in Virginia is very specific and it has changed a lot over the years. It allows the person to drive for certain conditions that are authorized by the court. It’s strictly interpreted and it has to be strictly followed. Typically, those conditions are driving to and from work and during work hours if their work requires them to drive; to and from school if the person is a student; to and from medical appointments for themselves, a family member, or a child; to and from childcare; to and from their child’s school; and to and from any court-ordered programs or court dates. If there is jail time involved, for example on a weekend, they can drive to and from the weekend service. The restricted license is restricted in terms of when they can drive, but also restricted in terms of how they can drive. They can’t drive with any alcohol in their system. With a restricted license, a person cannot have a BAC above .02, so they basically cannot have any alcohol in their system. This is all enforced through the ignition interlock system. If someone asks for a restricted license in Virginia, even for a DUI first offense, they have to have ignition interlock for a minimum of six months. The person also can’t add ignition interlock any time in the middle of their 12-month license suspension; the requirement means that they have to have the ignition interlock for the first six months of having the restricted license. If someone is driving a vehicle that does not belong to them and does not have the ignition interlock, their restricted license is considered completely invalid.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
Thomas Soldan: Ignition interlock is a device that attaches to the ignition system of your vehicle. It’s a small box with a tube that you have to blow into and get a reading of below .02 percent or the vehicle will not start. If there is alcohol in the person’s breath and they try to start the vehicle, then the ignition interlock system will lock the vehicle down and it report a violation to VASAP (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program), which monitors the ignition interlock devices. It will send the violation to the ignition interlock vendor. There is a whole list of procedures that people have to follow when they’re given this ignition interlock device. One of those things is how to deal with ignition interlock violations or errors, but the big thing is that if they have alcohol on their breath and they try to start the car, it’s going to lock them out.
What are the 2012 Changes to DUI Laws in Virginia?
Thomas Soldan: On July 1, 2012, Virginia’s DUI law changed, and it changed the process for getting a restricted license. The law was changed to say that any person who asks for a restricted license is required to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle for a minimum of six months. That was a huge change from the previous Virginia law and it is also a big change from Virginia’s neighboring states. West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and DC do not have this similar law. Virginia’s law now says that if a person’s license is suspended due to a DUI and they ask for a restricted license, they are going to have an ignition interlock for a minimum of six months. The law prior to July 1, 2012 only required ignition interlock in aggravated cases or cases of repeat offenders. Now, everyone who was convicted of DUI in Virginia and who asked for a restricted license is on the same playing field of having that ignition interlock device. Therefore, attorneys that are experienced in DUI law are also more experienced and give added value to their clients in terms of getting ignition interlock, the protocol, the proper procedure, what to look for in the ignition interlock devices, and the potential pitfalls and challenges with the devices. All those things can be explained by an experienced DUI attorney.