Breathalyzer Boom: Drunk Drivers with Interlock Device Up 75 Percent in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. — The number of drunk drivers ordered to install breathalyzers in their vehicles has risen 75 percent in Virginia over the last year as a result of a new law.

About 8,500 drivers convicted of a DUI were enrolled in Virginia’s ignition interlock program during the first 11-month period after the enactment of the tougher law, according to data from the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program released by AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The new law requires first-time DUI offenders to place the breathalyzer device in every vehicle they own and operate. The court-ordered device measures the offender’s blood alcohol concentration level and prevents a vehicle from starting if the level is higher than 0.02 percent.

Tampering with the device or attempting to circumvent it is a misdemeanor.

The auto club says 229 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Virginia in 2012, nearly a third of all traffic fatalities. Another 5,861 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes, 8.7 percent of all traffic injuries.

“Advocates fought an uphill battle for five long years to get this law passed in Virginia,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Martha Mitchell Meade said in a news release. “Remarkably, the law is already showing results less than a year after it was enacted. It throws the book at all drunk drivers, and most notably first-time offenders, who were caught red-handed while driving over the legal limit and subsequently convicted of drunk driving.”

Virginia is one of 15 states that have mandatory or court-ordered ignition interlock provisions or laws for drunken driving offenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


More From CBS DC

D.C. Lottery Live
Follow and Like Us

Listen Live