Drunk driving arrests are declining across the country, including in Virginia. According to one study based on information from federal crime, health and transit databases, DUI arrests have dropped by 31.4% across the country in the 10 years between 2009 and 2018. Virginia, specifically, ranks among the lower-tier states for drunk driving arrests, sitting at number 37 on the list. While the decline in DUI arrests came over 10 years, the last four years alone showed an 11.8% decline in drunk driving cases nationwide.

Virginia pledges stronger DUI enforcement

While these statistics may seem reassuring, some law enforcement agencies say that DUIs continue to be a major problem and that they plan to step up roadblocks, checkpoints and arrests. Many people may find themselves dealing with drunk driving charges even when it seems like they were perfectly fine to drive, and these charges can come with severe penalties. A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police claimed that fatalities related to alcohol had risen by 12% in the state in 2018 while others focused on the potential harms associated with driving under the influence of drugs. In 2018 alone, 19,790 people were convicted of a DUI throughout the state, facing high fines, loss of their driver’s licenses and even jail time.

DUI laws in Virginia

In most cases, people charged with a DUI in Virginia are accused of violating the legal limit for alcohol consumption. People 21 and older can be charged with drunk driving if a breath test shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. When the charges are linked to drugged driving, however, the issue can be more complex. Most of these cases involve cannabis, and there is no clear test that can show if or when a person is too intoxicated to drive after cannabis use.

If you are facing first-time DUI charges, you could end up with a misdemeanor record, have to pay a fine and face up to a one-year loss of driving privileges if convicted. Those facing second or third charges may have even more serious consequences to contend with. A DUI defense lawyer may help you challenge the allegations and work to prevent a conviction.