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Drunk driving deaths up, DUI arrests down in Virginia

Drunk driving deaths have been on the rise in Virginia. However, a recent report by a drug testing company shows that drunk driving arrests in the state are going down.

U.S. Drug Test Centers, which is one of the largest drug testing companies in the nation, analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Federal Bureau of Investigation crime reports to establish the drunk driving rates in all 50 states. It found that Virginia had a DUI arrest rate of 253.4 per 100,000 people, which ranked 37th overall in the country. It also found that the state’s DUI arrest rate decreased 11.8% between 2014 and 2018 and 31.4% between 2009 and 2018. Virginia’s highest arrest rate was in 2009, with 369.2 arrests per 100,000 people.

Despite the drop in DUI arrests, Virginia experienced a 12% increase in fatal drunk driving accidents in 2018, with 278 reported deaths. A July 2019 survey by Lake Research found that men between the ages of 21 and 35 were most likely to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. In fact, 49% of men in this age group admitted to driving after consuming alcohol or riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking. Virginia’s DUI limit is .08 for drivers 21 and over, .04 for commercial drivers and .02 for drivers under 21.

First-time DUI offenders in Virginia can face jail time, heavy fines and a driver’s license revocation. In addition, state law now requires all convicted DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. However, a criminal defense attorney might be able to represent a DUI defendant in court and work to get the charges dismissed. Alternatively, legal counsel might recommend negotiating a plea deal that reduces the charges, which may lead to a lighter sentence.

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