In Virginia, you cannot drive on your restricted driver’s license until you have an interlock device installed by an approved provider.

The basic premise of an interlock device is to prevent you from driving drunk.  However, it’s a little more complicated than that.

How the interlock device works

The interlock device not only prevents you from starting your car if you’ve had anything to drink; it also records failed attempts.  Therefore you cannot fail an attempt, and then walk away, thinking you can just wait it out or make other arrangements.  The device will record a failure, and then require you to test again after a set amount of time just to make sure there wasn’t any interference from a benign substance, such as mouthwash.  A subsequent failure will be recorded as a violation.  A failure to take the second test?  That’s also recorded as a violation.  These violations are reported to your VASAP case manager.  At best, they start your six months over again from that point.  At worst, they report you to the court for a probation violation.

When you pass the initial test, you can start your vehicle and go on your way.  However, you are required to take a rolling retest after five or so minutes.  Your device will notify you to take this test, and you typically have about five more minutes after the notification to take it.  If you fail this test, your vehicle will start flashing its lights and honking its horn, but the device cannot disable the vehicle for safety reasons.  If you pass, you are simply on your way.

Another rolling retest is requested of you at another set amount of time; in my case, it is every 45-60 minutes.

Steps for getting an interlock device installed on your vehicle

Like almost everything else you deal with when you get convicted of a DUI, the interlock installation is a multi-step process.

  1. Pay all court costs and fines associated with your DUI.
  2. Enroll in the VASAP program, including payment of the fee.
  3. Chose an interlock service provider – VASAP should give you a list of all approved providers; it is your job to call around to find the best pricing and location for you.  I went with LifeSafer – the price was competitive and they were conveniently located next to my VASAP office.
  4. Draft a restricted license permit with a VASAP case manager and have it approved and signed by a judge, and then the case manager.  Note that you cannot legally drive at this point.  Your restricted license is not valid until these steps are complete.
  5. Wait 24 hours for the case manager to send your referral to your chosen interlock service provider; call and make an installation appointment.
  6. Show up to your appointment on time – note that most providers will charge an additional fee for late arrival or a last minute change.  Again, note that you cannot legally drive to this appointment.  Your restricted license is not valid until these steps are complete.
  7. Once installed, go to your VASAP office with the installation certificate; they will sign off on the restricted license.  Only then can drive within the parameters of your restriction.

Next: Get your restricted hard license from the DMV

Related: Living with your Interlock Device

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