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A bill making its way through the 2012 Virginia General Assembly would require first-time drunk driving offenders to have a breath-test machine installed in their vehicles if a court restricts their license. Current law in Virginia requires such ignition interlock devices only after a second or subsequent conviction or if an offender's blood alcohol content level was .15 or higher when arrested.

Supporters believe the new law would substantially reduce repeat DUIs, but opponents have argued that this would be too much of a punishment for first-time offenders. The critics note that because the bill has no provision to make the binterlock requirement retroactive, it would leave many driving with multiple DUI on the road while subjecting more recent offenders to stricter requirements.

If a bill like this were to become law, maybe there would be a greater chance of preventing and deterring drunk driving. Also, I would ask the opponents how they would you feel if someone convicted of a single “minor” drunk driving offense and was not required to obtain a breath-test machine went out a few weeks later and killed a loved one while negligently driving while intoxicated?

My VA personal injury attorney colleagues and I represent victims injured by drunk drivers and we support tougher penalties for people who cause injuries and deaths while impaired by alcohol.

MK

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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