When residents of Virginia elect to drive after consuming too many alcoholic beverages, they worry only about being arrested for drunk driving. They rarely consider the more serious consequences of drunk driving, such as losing control of the vehicle and causing death or serious injury to other people. In a recent case from southern Virginia, a man allegedly failed to make this calculation, and his niece was killed as a consequence.
An archaic Virginia law that is still on the books allows for a person who has been convicted of drunk driving to be deemed a "habitual drunkard." This means that the person is not permitted to possess alcohol and if they are found in possession of it -- or even merely being near it -- they can be fined up to $2,500 and spend up to 12 months in jail.
Drunk driving is a common reason why police may arrest a motorist in Virginia. Many people in Virginia already know that the legal limit for how high a motorist's blood alcohol content can be in order to charge the motorist with drunk driving is 0.08 percent. What they may not know, however, is that in Virginia a motorist can face DUI charges even if their BAC is lower than the legal limit.
It is not unusual for teenagers and young adults to dabble in risky behavior, including drinking alcohol, even if they're underage. However, just like adults, those under age 21 sometimes find themselves facing drunk driving charges. Virginia residents may wonder, however, if those under the legal drinking age will face the same penalties adults do if they are convicted of DUI.
Most people in Virginia understand that being convicted of driving under the influence can have a significant long-term impact on a person's entire life. Of course, there are the initial penalties, such as fines, the suspension of a driver's license and possible jail time to contend with. However, even after a person has paid their debt to society, having a DUI on your criminal record will show up when a person performs a criminal background check on you. This could limit your housing options and employment opportunities, meaning that you could feel the effects of that DUI conviction for a very long time.
Police and prosecutors in Virginia take drunk driving seriously, and generally want to ensure that those who drive under the influence are punished accordingly. Lawmakers also recognize that drunk driving is a serious issue in the commonwealth, and some of them are looking to impose harsher penalties for those who commit certain DUI offenses.
If an officer suspects a person in Virginia is drunk driving, the officer may perform a field sobriety test before performing a breath test. There are three standard field sobriety tests that may be performed at a DUI stop. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test and the one-leg stand test.
It takes skill to handle a semi-truck, bus or other large commercial vehicle. In fact, drivers of these vehicles must obtain a special license to operate them. In addition, the law holds them to a higher standard of care than motorists of standard automobiles, specifically when it comes to drunk driving.
Most people in Virginia who operate a commercial vehicle take care to do so safely. In fact, because these big-rigs can be difficult to handle, an operator of a commercial vehicle needs to obtain a special license to operate the vehicles. Truckers can take all safety precautions possible, but accidents do occur, some of which could lead to criminal charges, including drunk driving charges.
Virginia's drunk driving laws are very strict and have significant penalties. In addition to fines, the loss of one's driver's license and possible jail time, a person convicted of DUI will need to have an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles they drive, except for employer-owned vehicles used only for job purposes, as long as the motorist is not self-employed. This is true even if it is a person's first offense.