The holiday season is upon us once again. It is a time for mirth and merriment: friends and family gatherings, office parties, community celebrations. Alcohol flows freely at many of these events. So along with the joy of the season comes the increased opportunity for a person to drink and drive—which may well bring unwanted interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. For Virginia residents, or anyone driving in Virginia, what exactly constitutes drinking and driving as a criminal offense?
First things first: if you have consumed any alcohol and need to get to another location, find a designated driver! There are services in almost every locality to give you a sober ride from a restaurant bar, your office or another person’s home; so, if you don’t have someone you know volunteering to be the designated driver, at a minimum … Read More »
In my last blog posting, I provided a short overview of several new laws that take effect in Virginia on July 1, 2013. Rarely have I received so many questions as I did regarding the new law in Virginia against texting while driving– from colleagues, friends and family. There is little argument that distracted driving can be dangerous, and that the proliferation of smartphones in the hands of drivers raises legitimate public safety concerns. But, is the Virginia ban on texting while driving the solution? And what exactly is prohibited by the new law?
In this article, I will address the most important aspects of the new Virginia law against texting while driving, including the many questions raised or left open by the statute, before offering up my educated guess as to how things will most likely play out with the … Read More »
In its latest session, the Virginia General Assembly passed many new laws that will affect Virginia residents– most of which go into effect on July 1, 2013. Here are brief summaries of five that might interest or impact you the most:
Texting While Driving. As of July 1st, Virginia Code Section 46.2-1078.1 will make it a traffic infraction punishable by a $125 fine to “[m]anually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person” or “[r]ead any email or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored within the device nor to any caller identification information.” Exceptions are carved out for texting while lawfully parked or stopped, or using a GPS. Prior to this new law going into effect, … Read More »
Have you ever felt that there is never a cop around when someone else is violating a traffic law, but the one time you go slightly above the speed limit or make a rolling stop through a stop sign, there’s sure to be an officer watching? An officer who just can’t wait to pull you over and write a ticket?
Traffic violations are often no respecter of persons. Many fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens receive them. They are not generally a reflection on one’s moral quality. But it feels that way when we receive them, and we want to have a way to redeem ourselves to avoid the stain of that mark against our driving record. We don’t want the points, and we don’t want the insurance premium increase.
So instead of prepaying the offense, we take time from work or school, we … Read More »
Manassas City police arrested a twenty-one year old female early on the morning of June 24 for DWI/DUI, possession of marijuana and texting while driving. According to an article by InsideNOVA.com, Courtney Michelle Blaydes was driving down the wrong side of Godwin Drive when she was observed by a Manassas police officer. After being stopped, Blaydes allegedly informed the officer that she had been texting. A police search of the vehicle then apparently resulted in the discovery of a smoking device and two bags possibly containing marijuana.
Texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning it can only be charged after probable cause is established for a primary offense; in this instance, driving on the wrong side of the road would be the primary offense that would create the probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. If the driver did admit to texting, then a ticket … Read More »
Traveling in the Northern Virginia or D.C. area this weekend for Memorial Day? Watch out for speed traps. Holiday traffic brings out additional law enforcement, and that means speed traps that will snare all too many drivers.
The National Motorists Association (NMA), a grassroots motorists’ rights group, has updated its 2010 rankings of the cities and states that are generally more likely to ticket speeding drivers. Among 50 states and the District of Columbia, D.C. ranks 8th and Virginia ranks 22nd. In addition, the Washington, D.C. metro area ranked 7th among the top 10 metro areas for traffic tickets.
With AAA predicting that 34.8 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend, you can be sure law enforcement will be out in droves in the Northern Virginia and D.C. area.
Other than not speeding (the safest bet), the cautious driver might … Read More »
Virginia has a reputation for strict penalties following DUI or DWI convictions. Mandatory minimum jail sentences, mandatory minimum fine amounts, mandatory driver’s license suspension (or privilege to drive in Virginia if you don’t have a Virginia license), completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, are all written into Virginia law by the General Assembly. One of the required penalties, the installation of the ignition interlock device, will undergo a dramatic change come July 1st.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed HB 279 which was signed into law on March 7, 2012 by Governor McDonnell. Virginia Code Sections 18.270.1 and 18.2-271.1 were amended dealing with the circumstances under which an interlock device is required to be installed once a restricted license is granted by a court following a DUI or DWI conviction. Following are the significant changes made to the interlock requirement:
Current … Read More »
About the only saving grace following a conviction on a charge of DWI, DUI, drug possession, or high speed reckless driving in Virginia is the opportunity to receive a Restricted Operator’s License so that you can continue to drive for a number of necessary, but limited, purposes.
A Virginia Restricted License allows a person to drive to and from their place of business, even during work under certain verifiable conditions; to and from an educational institution; to and from medical facilities for yourself or someone under your care; to and from school or daycare for your children; to and from court-ordered visitation with children; and to and from court-ordered probation or VASAP. In 2010, the General Assembly even added the ability to drive to a place of religious worship one day per week. You can find the entire list of uses … Read More »