Everyone is familiar with the term driving under the influence, but many people aren't sure exactly what it means. Virginia (like all states) takes DUIs very seriously. Being aware of the exact meaning of driving under the influence is important to keep our roadways safe for other drivers and pedestrians, so let's briefly take a look at the exact terminology.
Driving under the influence is determined by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), with different limits in place depending on age and license type.
Virginia currently recognizes three BAC thresholds for DUIs:
- More than 21 years old—0.08%
- Younger than 21–0.02%
- Commercial drivers licenses—0.04%
And even if you're within the legal limit for driving under the influence, you could still be charged with various other alcohol-related crimes when you get behind the wheel. Always be aware of:
- Open alcohol containers in the passenger area of your vehicle
- Buying alcohol for a minor
- Carrying alcohol in a school zone
- Misrepresenting your age
DUI penalties are strict and vary depending on your BAC and the type of license you possess. You might receive hours of community service, fines, a restricted license and/or suspended a license, or even a criminal record. For repeat offenses, expect more severe punishments.
For drivers with extremely high BAC, jail time is possible—even on the first offense.
And remember, committing other crimes while driving under the influence is all too common. Drunk drivers cause hundreds of deaths every year in Virginia, and laws are in place to punish such recklessness.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, seek a DUI attorney ASAP. Representing yourself in court is the last thing you want to do, especially when faced with the possibility of jail time and a suspended license.
DUI laws aren't in place to stop people from enjoying a night out—they're in place to protect us all from the dangerous effects of drinking and operating a vehicle.
For more information on the exact laws regarding driving under the influence in Virginia, http://www.dmv.org/va-virginia/automotive-law/dui.php.
Rather than play with fire and attempt to drive drunk, take precautions before you go out. Call a cab. Stay with a friend. Have a designated driver. Don't drink too much. All it takes is one bad decision to forever alter a life.