How Common is Drunk Driving in Virginia?



Drunk driving is a deadly, yet unfortunately common habit that persists on the U.S. roads. This form of negligent driving costs nearly 30 American lives every day, the equivalent of one person per hour. The outlook is no better in Virginia, where there were over 250 DUI (driving under the influence) arrests for every 100,000 people. Almost 280 people were killed in these collisions, along with 4,500 injured victims. With the 12% rise in drunk driving collisions in 2018, Virginia’s future concerning drunk driving collisions appears to be grim. Still, there are several disturbing drunk driving statistics to be aware of as more and more people get back on the roads and back to everyday life as summer comes to an end.

The Realities of Drunk Driving in Virginia

Though the rate of drunk driving activity has recently increased in Virginia, data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shows that deaths from this type of negligence have fallen by 37% in the last three decades. While this is certainly welcome news, it does not change the fact that one out of every six Virginians is likely to be killed in alcohol-related collisions.

According to the state’s DMV, more than one-third (34%) of all fatal crashes were attributed to drinking and driving. In the year 2018 alone, just shy of 19,800 Virginian drivers were charged with DUIs. These numbers have led the state to become one of the strictest in the country concerning their alcohol-related legislation.

First-time offenders are guaranteed to have their licenses suspended for at least seven days if they are found to be operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Individuals can be arrested within three hours of the crash, at any location, without a warrant. Subsequent offenses worsen the consequences, especially if committed within five years. Offenders will not be granted bail while they await trial.

Will Drinking and Driving Decrease in the Future?

While the current laws certainly provide a deterrent to the dangerous habit, there’s no telling if drunk driving incidents will decrease in the state. As mentioned, between 2017 and 2018, the rate of these accidents rose by about 12%. In the same period, DUI convictions were amplified by nearly 6%. To make matters worse, the average offender’s BAC was almost twice the legal limit, at about 0.147. The circumstances seem to be worsening in many facets of drunk driving, so lawmakers are doing their best to compensate.

A new statute titled HB 1941 has been passed this year. The law has strengthened the consequences for drivers who inflict permanent injuries upon victims, raising the felony from a Class 6 to a Class 4. This requires offenders to serve anywhere from a 2- to 10-year sentence. Alcohol-related collisions that result in the victim becoming seriously injured without permanent effects now result in the drunk driver being convicted of a Class 6 felony.

It is unclear if these laws will substantially reduce the rate of drunk driving in Virginia. However, they will present worse repercussions for those who violate the statutes. If you or someone you know has been injured in such an accident, get in touch with a drunk driving attorney. Their legal counsel will ensure that you get the justice you deserve and experience the most peaceful recovery possible. 

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