The law is soon going to come down harder on repeat drunken drivers. Beginning July 1, Virginia law will make certain repeat driving under the influence offenses a felony and impose mandatory jail sentences.
The current statute allows some repeat offenders to face only misdemeanor charges for subsequent alcohol-related offenses, even if they were previously convicted of incidents in which people were seriously injured or killed.
The state law includes a key change that strikes the clause dictating that subsequent offenses must occur within a 10-year period after the initial conviction. Now, a subsequent DUI offense following certain similar convictions will be Class 6 felonies.
The punishment for the felony will be a mandatory one-year jail sentence, a minimum fine of $1,000, and a five-year driver’s license suspension.
The new law will impact those previously convicted of a third or subsequent DUI; involuntary manslaughter DUI; a DUI offense in which someone is maimed; boating under the influence (BUI) in which someone is maimed; and BUI involuntary manslaughter.
The goal of the new law is to mandate harsher penalties on those who cause a disproportionate amount of carnage on roads. Repeat drunk drivers are over-represented in fatal crashes where alcohol was a factor.
According to recently released statistics from the Virginia Department of Transportation, DUI convictions are on the rise in the Commonwealth. Last year, 229 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes on state roads. According to the statistics, there were also more than 28,700 drivers convicted of DUI last year.
Tragically, the number of individuals operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol is rising. Although the penalties for driving under the influence have increased, nothing can replace the loss suffered by someone hurt by a drunken motorist. Because of the number of variables in this area, we encourage you to speak to our legal team for the best advice possible.