DALE CITY, Va. – A new law in Virginia will require ignition locks for all convicted drunken drivers, even first-time offenders.
Gov. Bob McDonnell says the law, which took effect last month, is “tough love.”
“We are not going to tolerate drunk driving in the Commonwealth, and if you do it once, we are going to make sure you don’t do it again,” McDonnell says.
The ignition interlock requires a driver to blow into a breathalyzer before the car will start. Before the new law, the state only required ignition interlock devices when an offender’s blood alcohol level was 0.15 or greater or after a second drunken driving offense.
“We know that a number of people, despite having a restricted driver’s license or having a driving license taken away, will go and recidivate,” McDonnell says.
An average of 27,000 people are arrested for drunk driving each year in Virginia. In 2011, 245 people in Virginia were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ignition interlocks reduce drunk driving repeaters by about 67 percent.
Similar laws also are on the books in Oregon and Arizona. Those states have seen a 50 percent decrease in drunken driving-related deaths.