With its “Zero Tolerance” DUI Law, Virginia Falls in Line with Other States

The past couple of decades have seen a huge change in the general public's view of drinking and driving, especially by juveniles (i.e., high-school and college students). It used to be that having a couple of beers and going out for a drive might have been seen as “youthful hijinks.” Today, society takes a much dimmer view—and for good reason. Every year, hundreds of teenagers are killed nationwide in accidents involving alcohol consumption, and they often take innocent pedestrians, passengers, and fellow drivers along with them.

In 2011, Virginia bowed to the inevitable and passed a “zero tolerance” DUI law aimed at drivers under the age of 21. What sets this law apart from “normal” DUI laws is the minimal blood-alcohol levels (BACs) required for a conviction. An 18-year-old with a BAC of 0.02 percent can legally be arrested for drunk driving. To put this number into perspective, the threshold for “normal,” adult drunk driving is set much higher, at 0.08 percent. The smaller number corresponds to the consumption of one beer an hour before getting behind the wheel!

While the intent of Virginia's “zero tolerance” law is admirable, the effects can be disastrous, especially if you're a callow teen who happens to get caught. The law calls for a minimum license suspension of one year, and a conviction on this charge is classified as a class-one misdemeanor, meaning it can persist as part of your criminal record well into adulthood. If you are a teen or young adult who has been charged with DUI, or simply a concerned parent, call the law firm of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman now for a free consultation.

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