Does Virginia need tougher penalties for injuries caused by drunk drivers? Two of our delegates think so. They have introduced legislation before the House Courts Committee to initiate the process of making penalties tougher for those who cause serious injuries when driving under the influence.
Drunk drivers on Virginia highways cause injury and death every year. The chart below shows the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities caused by drunk drivers in the Commonwealth. Clearly the number of crashes has declined, but the number of these crashes remains far too high.
Under current Virginia law, when a DUI crash causes “permanent and significant physical impairment, the driver can be charged with a Class 6 felony. The penalty for a Class 6 felony is five years in prison and a possible fine of $2,500.
The new legislation, introduced by Delegates Robert Bell (Republican) and Mike Mullin (Democrat) proposes a change that would make a DUI accident that causes permanent and significant physical impairment a Class 4 felony. The penalty for a Class 4 felony is 10 years in prison and a possible fine of $100,000. The new legislation proposes, in addition, that causing “serious bodily injury” by reckless DWI driving, regardless of significant impairment should become a Class 4 felony. Both of these categories of felony would require “driving in a reckless manner while intoxicated.”
We will be watching with great interest to this legislation makes its way through the Virginia House of Delegates.
What do you think? Will tougher penalties make a significant difference in the number of DUI crashes on Virginia highways? Do you think other penalties would be more effective?
We have made available two documents from the CDC here:
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash (auto accident) caused by a drunk driver, you need an attorney who combines compassion with fierce and aggressive pursuit of your rights. Call Altizer Law, P.C. in Roanoke, VA when you need help and representation. Trusted attorney Bettina Altizer and her team will listen to your account of the accident and build an effective civil case to recover the damages you are entitled to under Virginia Law.