Though drunk driving trends in Virginia remain low by historical standards, the issue still disrupts lives in many different ways. Drivers charged with a DUI face significant penalties and accident victims suffer from serious injuries and even fatalities.
A look at some data about impaired driving in the state reveals important facts.
Tough state laws
Information from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles stresses that the state has some of the toughest drunk driving penalties on the books. A first-time offense can result in a driver losing his or her license for a full year. It will also result in a mandatory interlock device for some time after the license suspension.
Additional offenses lead to even more severe penalties. A second conviction comes with a license suspension of up to three years. If that second conviction happens within five years of the first, the offender must serve 20 days in jail.
Nearly a third of traffic fatalities in the state include alcohol as a factor in the crash. In 2019, this amounted to 264 of Virginia’s 827 road fatalities.
Drunk driving also has significant economic costs. DUI-related fatalities cost the state about $429 million in various expenses and lost revenue. Each DUI charge in the state costs between $5,000 to $20,000.
Even a small amount of alcohol before driving can increase the chance of an accident. While drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent meet the threshold for a DUI, information shows that a .02 percent BAC causes a degree of driver impairment.
All Virginia drivers should understand the consequences of drinking and driving. They should also exercise their legal rights if charged with a DUI offense in Virginia.