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Ignition interlock basics

Residents in Virginia who are arrested for and charged with drunk driving offenses will want to understand the particulars surrounding some of the penalties they may face if they are ultimately convicted of a driving under the influence charge. One of these penalties may be the required installation and use of an ignition interlock device, also commonly referred to as an IID. 

As explained by Virginia’s Legislative Information System, a driver ordered to use an IID system must not operate any vehicle that is not equipped with this type of device during their required period of use. The driver must also bear all costs associated with the ignition interlock system. These costs include the purchase or rental of a device, installation and removal of the device and ongoing maintenance or calibration during the time of use. They may also have to pay a fee to the court to cover administrative costs associated with their case.

According to Intoxalock, and IID manufacturer and one of the companies that rents IIDs, the system is comprised of multiple components. The part that is directly used by a driver is the handheld breath test unit. This is connected to an electronic chip that controls a vehicle’s ignition. It may also control signals that may be used if a driver fails a test or does not take a test when prompted while driving.

In Virginia, a failed test is one that returns a blood alcohol content reading of at least 0.02 percent. A driver must take a test every time they wish to start a vehicle and if the test is not passed, the vehicle will not start.