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Legislation passed by the Virginia Senate this week would require ignition interlocks for first-time drunk drivers, regardless of their blood alcohol level.

Under current state law, the device is required only for repeat offenders, or for anyone who registers a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, CBSDC reports. A person using the device blows into it, and if alcohol is detected, the car won’t start.

The Virginia House has passed similar legislation.

Last month, Connecticut became the 15th state to require ignition interlock devices for people convicted of drunk driving, even if they are first-time offenders. At least 24 other states require the devices for repeat offenders, or for those with blood alcohol levels of .15 or more. In some states, requiring interlock ignition devices is left to the discretion of judges. In Nevada, licenses are revoked for shorter periods for convicted drivers who agree to use the devices.

Convicted drunk drivers are generally required to pay for the ignition interlock devices.

A review of 15 research studies published last year found that interlock devices significantly reduce the likelihood that people convicted of driving while drunk will reoffend. When installed, interlocks are associated with about a 70 percent reduction in arrest rates for impaired driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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