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Drunk drivers get punishment reminder when starting their cars

As sections of the state continue to recover from recent severe weather conditions, state authorities are putting the heat on a different type of event: drunk driving.

The state of Virginia is proactive in targeting drunk drivers and pursuing justice for victims of drunk driving accidents. This year, Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort involved 75 percent of uniformed state troopers working over the long holiday weekend hoping to prevent head-on collisions, permanent disabilities and other horrific consequences of intoxicated driving.

Holidays, of course, are well-known for increased police presence in most states. Summer holidays attract even more law enforcement activity, as opportunities for drinking and driving abound at parties, festivals and other social events.

Last year, Virginia police arrested more than 115 people for drunk driving over the Fourth of July holiday. At this time a year ago, police in the state also responded to 14 fatal car accidents that involved some form of drunk driving.

According to one sergeant with the Virginia state police, being stopped for drunk driving this Fourth of July means an automatic arrest as well as stricter penalties. One such penalty is the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

Before starting a vehicle that has the device installed, the driver must breathe into the device. If the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) registers higher than .02 percent, the car won't start. While driving, motorists also must breathe into the device a second time to have their BAC checked again.

All of those people whom the state convicts of driving drunk this Fourth of July will have to install the device in their vehicles. This requirement is not limited to those convicted of drunk driving for the second or third time; first-time offenders also will have to use the device.

Source: WTVR, "Differing opinions on effectiveness of ignition interlock device," Alix Bryan and Lorenzo Hall, July 4, 2012

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