Starting on Sunday, there will be stricter consequences if you are caught drinking and driving. State lawmakers passed a law in March to make a DUI conviction more serious and more costly than before.
Lawmakers hope the new law will keep the roads safe by preventing more people from drinking and driving.
Most people already know it is dangerous to drive after drinking alcohol, but now, even if you mess up just once and get a DUI, your punishment will not only be inconvenient but also expensive.
Blowing on a device before starting your car can be a pain, and an embarrassment, but starting July 1, you will have to get an ignition interlock system if you get a DUI even for the first time.
Pam Simmons said the change is good news. As the director of Harrisonburg's Alcohol Safety Action program, already she has seen the positive effects of this device.
"When the person goes and gets their device calibrated, we get a computer read out and there are people who blow positive, and they're not able to start their cars, so it's definitely stopped them that time from getting behind that car and driving," said Simmons.
If a person has one of these devices in their car, they will have to blow into it before they can even start their car. The device will detect how much alcohol they have in their system and whether they are okay to drive. If they have too much alcohol in their system, the device will prevent the car from even starting.
Marsha Garst, the Commonwealth's Attorney, said it should help prevent more people from drinking and driving.
"It is a wonderful idea,” said Garst. “And the reason that is is every time that person has to blow into that device, they're going to think about drinking and driving. It'll make them think 'This is a pain. This is a hassle. This is expensive, and I'm not going to drink and drive again.'"
Garst said whether you pass or fail the test, this new device will stop more drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and hurting others on the road.
If you have to get the ignition interlock, you will have to pay about $80 a month to get it checked and you will have it for at least six months.
There are four companies who install the ignition interlock in Virginia. If you have to get one, you will have to make an appointment and they will come to a local shop to put it in your car.
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