According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, alcohol- and drug-related fatalities have fallen by 37% over the past three decades, in part due to the state’s strict DUI standards. It’s vital for people who struggle with substance abuse to familiarize themselves with the statutes. Not only can they serve as deterrents, but understanding the standards can prevent run-ins with the law, avoidable catastrophes and unfair convictions.
Virginia’s zero tolerance drunk driving law
Virginia maintains a zero-tolerance drunk driving law. It stipulates that underage people caught behind the wheel with even a minuscule amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems will lose their licenses for one year and be saddled with either a $500 fine or 50 hours of community service.
In other words, if you’re under 21 years old and your blood alcohol content is .02, you can be convicted for driving under the influence and duly punished.
Virginia’s DUI per se law
Under Virginia law, non-commercial drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 are considered legally impaired. Results can be derived from breath, urine and blood tests. In court, prosecutors only need to prove that your BAC level met or surpassed the limit. The BAC level standard for commercial drivers is .04.
Virginia’s drugging under the influence law
Drivers can also face DUI charges if their BAC is under .08. If a law enforcement officer determines that an individual is too impaired to drive after conducting a field sobriety test, they can take them into custody. This stipulation allows police to censure drivers who may be under the influence of drugs and not alcohol. Behaviors that may contribute to this type of arrest include slurred speech, swaying, having a flushed face or even hyperactivity.
In these situations, prosecutors must prove that the defendants drove in a diminished capacity. When faced with such charges, securing an attorney can prove invaluable because some assessment methods may be deemed subjective in certain drunk driving cases.
Keeping the roads safe is a top priority for law enforcement. But drivers also have rights, and all too often, people in recovery find themselves the victims of subjective policing. If you feel you’ve been unfairly targeted, working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be a saving grace.