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What is the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program?

According to the state of Virginia, 86 percent of all criminal activity is related to alcohol or drugs. As a result of that belief, the state has been working hard to reduce those behaviors since at least 1966, when the MANN Commission was formed to assess accepting funding through the Federal Highway Safety Act of 1966.

That funding created the state’s first Highway Safety Division, which ultimately became the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety. In 1972, the first pilot program for what the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, or VASAP, was initiated, and it was finalized as a statewide program in 1975. Today, 24 local programs called ASAPs operate throughout the state, funded through fees collected from the probationers assigned to it.

The good news about the program is that, every year, it diverts thousands of people from incarceration, which is costly for everyone involved. Offenders benefit by not being sent to jail and having to face all the negative consequences that can cause in their lives. The state benefits by not having to pay for so many people being incarcerated.

Each local program focuses on five areas, with the overall goal of improving driver safety in the state. Two of those areas are providing public information and periodic review of the programs’ effectiveness. The three that directly affect probationers are these:

Enforcement: Assisting law enforcement with traffic enforcement activities, training, and the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment.

Adjudication: Working with courts to appropriately supervise probationers and revoke probation for noncompliant offenders.

Offender intervention and case management: Assigning each probationer a case manager who can offer appropriate treatment or other services and who ensures each probationer follows through with the requirements.

Who is assigned to VASAP and what can they expect?

This is a probation program, so it only applies to you if you’ve been convicted of DUI in Virginia. Whatever your jail sentence might have been, it will be suspended in exchange for probation through a local ASAP program. You’ll also have a restricted driver’s license and be ordered to report to the program.

Probation involves rules such as avoiding alcohol and drugs completely. It also involves treatment and/or education, as appropriate. If you follow all the rules and participate, you exit the program with few restrictions. If you don’t, you could be kicked out of the program as “noncompliant” and your suspended jail sentence will be reinstated.

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