The landscape for DUI offenders in West Virginia is about to change for the better. A new law allows people charged with DUI to join the state’s ignition interlock program immediately, provided they waive their hearing.
An ignition interlock is a device which tests a driver’s breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a certain level.
In most states, a person charged with DUI can request a hearing to challenge the case immediately. If the hearing is unsuccessful, punishment may include having to drive with an interlock, after a set period of suspension elapses.
The West Virginia law lets offenders who accept the charge skip right to the interlock, instead of losing their license for a period of time.
It might seem counter-intuitive to some: why let DUI offenders drive? But in fact, ignition interlock programs are known to reduce alcohol-related road accidents and fatalities. The reason is that too many
offenders, particularly problem drinkers who pose the worst danger, continue to drink and drive without their licenses.
Ignition interlocks are the proven, practical answer. They prevent an offender from driving if they have been drinking. They also collect data on failed tests, so the authorities can track the progress of the driver’s efforts to adhere to a sobriety program.
The West Virginia DMV says that the effect will be twofold: it will protect other motorists and pedestrians,by keeping impaired drivers off the roads, and also speed up the offender’s rehabilitation.
Congratulations to West Virginia for making their roads safer.