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Virginia Beach city treasurer facing third DUI charge

Virginia DUI convictions can greatly affect the lives of many people, especially the life of the person who was convicted. Avoiding these convictions is possible with the right defense in place. The Virginia Beach city treasurer, John Atkinson, will need to work out his defense after being charged with his third DWI in three decades.

Atkinson was pulled over for a broken taillight on his way home from a dinner date at an Oceanfront restaurant. He was charged with a DUI, but, according to police, he refused to take a breath or blood test. He was released on a $2,500 unsecured bond. Atkinson admits to having alcohol on his breath, but says that he had not consumed enough alcohol to be intoxicated. He says he ordered three glasses of wine at the restaurant, and he has the receipt to prove it. One of the three glasses was for his date, and he did not finish his second glass.

Atkinson has faced drunken-driving charges in the past. His first charge was in 1987, when he pleaded no contest and was fined and referred to an alcohol-safety program. In 1993, Atkinson was charged with a DUI, but was found not guilty.

Atkinson has been Virginia Beach's treasurer for over 35 years. Because Atkinson is a city official, a prosecutor from another jurisdiction will have to handle the case.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 20 percent of drivers suspected of driving under the influence refuse a blood alcohol concentration test. Refusing a blood or breath test may mean automatic license suspension, heavy fines or even jail time. Nonetheless, it may be a smart thing to do for drivers with past convictions. The consequences for refusing a BAC test may be less severe than the consequences of a third or fourth DUI conviction.

Source: Virginian-Pilot, "Virginia Beach city treasurer charged with DWI," Kathy Adams & Margaret Matray, Sept. 27, 2014

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