Pulled Over on Suspicion of DUI? It Matters Who Else Is in Your Car

Over the past few years, a series of high-profile car crashes involving children has prompted authorities to focus not only on drunk drivers, but on the passengers in their vehicles at the time they're pulled over by police. For example, a horrific crash on New York's Taconic State Parkway in 2009 resulted in the deaths of a woman, her daughter, and her three young nieces. It later surfaced that the driver was inebriated. This accident led to the swift passage of New York's Child Passenger Protection Act, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle.

While Virginia doesn't yet have the equivalent of New York's Child Passenger Protection Act, this state does significantly increase the penalties for a DUI conviction if any passengers under the age of 18 were in the car. Most people convicted for a first-time DUI offense don't have to serve any time in jail, but if they were driving with any underage passengers, the judge has to impose a five-day minimum. The operative word here is “minimum;” if a judge finds the circumstances to be especially egregious, he or she can impose a longer jail term.

If you have been accused of a DUI offense, and there were any passengers under the age of 18 in your car, you need to hire an experienced attorney who can examine the evidence and negotiate with the district attorney for the best possible outcome. Call Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman today for a free consultation!


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