Learning that a driving under the influence charge could lie ahead is, needless to say, a stressful experience. One's career, financial situation and even quality of life could be placed on the line after a DUI charge. Although Virginia laws work to protect all drivers on the road, some criticize the state's laws surrounding DUIs, DWIs and ignition interlock systems. What are Virginia's DUI laws, and have changes in recent years come with positive results?
Driving resource I Drive Safely immediately points out that drunk driving is a serious issue in the state of Virginia. Like many states, Virginia sees thousands of crashes each year, with many resulting in fatalities. I Drive Safely goes on to share the state's laws surrounding breath tests and drivers' rights, stating that Virginians do not have the option of choosing the type of test they receive. Drivers who refuse the test could face a license suspension and even a misdemeanor. Furthermore, just a first DUI offense could result in up to one year behind bars, required driver safety programs and a minimum $250 fine.
WSLS 10 News comments on the relatively new law requiring Virginia drivers to install an interlock ignition device in vehicles to monitoring drinking. How has this law affected drunk driving in the state? According to WSLS, breathalyzer systems have in part reduced the number of drunk driving offenses statewide. After this law took effect, DUI arrests in Roanoke dropped from 474 arrests between 2012 and 2013 to 265 arrests between 2016 and 2017. Some experts claim the changes are also due to increased officer patrolling for drunk drivers and rolling retests, which work in other ways to keep alcohol impaired drivers off of the state's roads. Drunk driving may be an age-old concern, but new laws are working to reduce this nationwide issue.