Lawmakers consider ignition interlock expansion

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A bill that would force everyone convicted of DUI to put an ignition interlock on their car is expected to go before a senate committee at the state capitol on Monday.

It is already a law in Virginia that people convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol content of 0.15. This expansion of the law would make it so anyone convicted of drinking and driving will need to pass a breathalyzer test before their engine will fire up.

The use of ignition interlocks, the device that prevents a drunk person from starting their car, exists as a deterrent and protection from the dangers of drinking and driving. For advocates working to eliminate every possible threat, it doesn't go far enough.

"About a third of drunk drivers will repeat the offense, at least a third will repeat the offense and get caught," said Chis Konshank from Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Virginia chapter.

And for Konshank that means a whole group of convicted drunk drivers whose blood alcohol level was between .08 and 0.15 are in danger of repeating their offense and putting other people and themselves at risk on the road.

"If they get into the cars and blow into that and have alcohol in their system, the cars not going to start. We end up saving lives that way," said Konshank.

The House of Delegates has already passed the legislation overwhelmingly, but it remains stalled in the Senate. The body's courts and justice committee has in the past had issues with the $400 price tag of the device and its ability to be enforced. Skeptics say it may help a little, but if people really want to drink and drive they will find a way.

And while supporters concede that ignition interlocks, won't keep every drunk from getting behind the wheel, if it saves even one person the effort will be worth it.

In addition to the benefit that the ignition interlocks provide to innocent drivers on the road, MADD believes they are a benefit to the drunk drivers as well. They help to track offenders with serious alcohol problems and connect them with the help they need.

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