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New DUI laws in place for commercial drivers in Virginia

Virginia drivers should be aware of the drunk driving laws in the state and their accompanying penalties if there is a conviction for DUI. Even those who are operating their vehicles as they pass through the state should know they can face various consequences for a conviction. This is especially significant for truckers whose job it is to drive across the country carrying their loads. A new law in Virginia can affect their situation and job if they are arrested and convicted of DUI while operating a commercial vehicle.

Beginning on July 1, a driver convicted of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence will face harsher penalties than before. A first offense for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 or higher will be jailed for five days. A person who has a BAC of .20 or higher will be incarcerated for 10 days.

For a second offense within five years of the first, there will be up to one year in jail with a minimum of 20 days in jail and a $500 fine. If the second offense is within five to 10 years, the fine will be $500 with an incarceration of one month with 10 days' minimum. If there is a second offense within 10 years, there will be a $500 fine. If the driver's BAC was .15 or higher, there will be an extra 10 days in jail. For .20 or higher, there will be an extra 20 days. For a third offense within 10 years, it is a Class 6 felony.

The decision to increase the penalties for drunk commercial drivers was sparked by the large number of commercial driver who were in an accident while under the influence in the latest statistics from 2015 with 65. Drivers who are arrested for DUI in Virginia must understand the penalties they will face. Commercial drivers can be affected more deeply with an arrest as it can lead to a variety of punishments such as fines, jail and perhaps a driver's license suspension.

Being arrested on drunk driving charges does not automatically imply guilt. There could have been an issue with the DUI stop. It is possible that the testing machine was malfunctioning. Or the law enforcement officer could have violated protocol, nullifying the basis of the arrest. Since a commercial driver's livelihood and freedom can be affected, it is vital to have legal assistance from an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Source: alexandrianews.org, "New Virginia Law Cracking Down On Drunk Truckers Goes Into Effect July 1," June 29, 2017

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