Virginia State Crime Commission Evaluates Drunk Driving
The Virginia State Crime Commission (the “Commission”) is currently evaluating the statewide impact of drunk driving, according to an article by CBS affiliate WDBJ.
A study from the Commission indicated that driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is the cause of approximately one third of fatal crashes in Virginia. The study also highlighted an important enforcement issue. With a rising number of drug-related DUI cases, there appears to be a shortage of drug-recognition experts available to law enforcement.
The Commission will consider various recommendations to improve DUI enforcement in Virginia, including additional funds and training. The expectation is that the Commission will provide approved recommendations to the General Assembly upon their return next year.
While the Commission continues to evaluate DUI enforcement, it seems fitting to review the existing DUI laws and penalties in Virginia.
DUI Laws in Virginia
The state laws against DUI appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266. This section makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle, engine, or train while:
- Under the influence of alcohol;
- Impaired by any self-administered intoxicant, narcotic drug, or other substance; or
- Impaired by a combination of alcohol and any drug(s).
More specifically, Section 18.2-266 prohibits driving with a:
- Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more;
- Blood concentration of 0.02 milligrams or more of cocaine;
- Blood concentration of 0.1 milligrams or more of methamphetamine;
- Blood concentration of 0.01 milligrams or more of phencyclidine (PCP); or
- Blood concentration of 0.1 milligrams or more of MDMA.
Under Virginia law, a driver is considered under the influence or impaired when they are incapable of operating their vehicle in a safe fashion.
DUI Penalties in Virginia
The state penalties for DUI appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270. This section establishes different charges and penalties for DUI, depending on various factors.
From a general standpoint, Virginia features the following charges and penalties for DUI offenses:
- First Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor with at least $250 in criminal fines and, for BAC levels of 0.15 or more, five to 10 days in jail;
- Second Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor with at least $500 in criminal fines and a mandatory jail sentence between 10 and 20 days;
- Third Offense — Class 6 felony with at least $1,000 in criminal fines and a mandatory prison sentence between three and six months; or
- Fourth or Subsequent Offense — Class 6 felony with at least $1,000 in criminal fines and a mandatory prison sentence of 12 months.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about DUI or other criminal offenses in Virginia, it can be especially beneficial to contact a reasonable Leesburg criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers can provide valuable guidance in the face of criminal charges in Virginia, including DUI. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.