West Virginia DUI Law Increases Ignition Interlocks


West Virginia's new ignition interlock DUI law has been in effect for more than six months now and the state is reviewing their impact and effectiveness.

Steve Dale, assistant to the DMV Commissioner told Metro News that his office has collected the data, but are reluctant to announce results. Dale says that the ignition interlock law is new and it would be difficult to draw concrete conclusions based on the data because there is no data with which to compare.

The DMV data shows that in 2008 there were 3,348 first-offense DUIs in West Virginia from July 1 to Dec. 31. Of these DUI arrests, 2,214 were for non-aggravated DUI. In West Virginia, a non-aggravated DUI is defined as a driver over the legal blood alcohol content limit of .08 percent, but less than .15 percent, without any other aggravating circumstances. During the same period, 1,134 DUI arrests were made for aggravated DUI or of drivers with a blood alcohol content of .15 percent or above.

Since the new DUI laws went into effect, first time DUI offenders who were not charged with aggravated DUI have been allowed to participate in the state's ignition interlock program. Offenders who qualify to participate in the new program may drive again after a mandatory 15-day driver's license suspension if they have the ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles.

Dale tells the Metro News that since the law went into effect, there has been a 30 percent increase in ignition interlock usage. He says that the purpose of the new West Virginia DUI law was to increase the usage of ignition interlock, and it has been successful at that. Increased ignition interlock usage is expected to decrease jail costs in the state and decrease the incidence of repeat DUI offenders.

When data through June 2009 is available, the state will have data to compare and will be better able to judge the effectiveness of the new law. For now, it is being tentatively called a success as the DMV looks forward to studying data for the next six months and beyond.

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