Approximately 10 years ago, Virginia lawmakers created over 70 bills to increase the penalties relating to dunk drivers and create what is almost a zero-tolerance policy for repeat drunk driving offenders. The question is, though, did it work?
According to statistics issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, it has. Since 2005, the number of fatalities in our state has dropped a full 21 percent. The number of car accidents caused by drunk driving has also fallen by approximately 30 percent. Meanwhile, the number of DUI convictions has stayed about the same.
Virginia is not alone, either. Indeed, nationwide, DUI fatalities have dropped by 23 percent in data gathered from 2005 to 2012. Police and attorneys alike are attributing these decline in accidents and deaths to stricter laws, especially with regard to repeat offenders, and a nationwide cultural shift that has more drivers avoiding getting behind the wheel after drinking. According to the Sheriff of Virginia Beach, who was a state senator when the stiffer DUI laws were passed, the state needed laws that would have a stronger deterring affect back then and he believes that the news laws have done their job. At the time, state legislators were arguing about moving the legal limit for blood alcohol levels down from 0.15 percent to 0.10 percent. Now, however, it is 0.08 percent.
Any laws that function to keep drunk drivers off Virginia streets can be seen as a great benefit to the citizens of our state. While these laws most certainly help, unfortunately wherever there are roads and cars, there will be the threat of drunk drivers and DUI car accidents. Drunk drivers, however, can be held accountable in civil court for any injuries, deaths and damages they cause. In this sense, a drunk driver may be prosecuted and punished for his or her crime in criminal court; and later victims and their family may be able to use the evidence obtained in the criminal proceedings to bolster their claims for financial damages in civil court.
Source: policeone.com, “Tough Va. DUI laws lead to drop in crashes, deaths” Jul. 15, 2014