In Virginia, every first offense DWI conviction carries a mandatory one year driver’s license suspension. Restricted licenses have been available, but required an ignition interlock and only permitted travel for a few purposes like driving to work, school, child care, or doctor’s appointments. Restricted licensees could not stop for gas, pick up a meal at a drive-thru, or go to the grocery store. That is changing in 2020. As of July 1, first offender DWI convictions with a BAC under 0.15 will be eligible to drive anywhere and anytime, so long as they have an ignition interlock in the vehicle. It is expected that this change will improve public safety and allow people to better care for their families after a DWI conviction.
Although this option appears to be limited to a relatively small class of people charged with DWI (first offenders with low BAC), it is possible that more serious cases could be negotiated to reach this outcome. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Virginia, be sure to contact an attorney to discuss how these changes affect your case, and whether you can attain eligibility for the new, more flexible restricted license.