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The new Virginia DWI Ignition Interlock law may be prohibited

Virginia’s new DWI law is set to take effect July 1, 2012. Its a new penalty provision which makes every first offender use an ignition interlock device to confirm his breath has no alcohol in it before starting. The law is found at Virginia Code 18.2-270.1.
From what I am told, the courts intend to begin using the new penalty on July 1, 2012. This means that those who broke the law before July 1, 2012 but are punished on or after July 1 with the new law are suffering a penalty which was not there when the offense occurred. Now that’s not fair. In fact, its prohibited.

Granted, this blog post will only be relevant until all the DWI offenses from before July 1are finished but even so, the law is the law, even if applicable for a short time.

The concept involved is a prohibition called ex post facto. Under the ex post facto prohibition, a law that makes punishment for a crime more onerous is void as applied to a defendant whose crime was complete before the law’s effective date. Miller v. Florida, 482 U.S. 423, 435-36 (1987). An ex post facto law involves the imposition of penalty on a start date but related to offense which occurred before the start date. Gill v. Commonwealth, (Va. App., May 1, 2012). So, if it happens to you, and hopefully it won’t, consider that its prohibited and say so-Ex Post Facto!

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