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Virginia seeks to increase penalties against drunk drivers

The start of July will herald more than just the usual summertime activities throughout Virginia this year. Starting on July 1, the state will crack down on repeat drunk driving offenders. Lawmakers have designated some repeat DUI offenses as felonies, and those convicted will have to serve a mandatory sentence in jail.

Choosing to be a drunk driver in Virginia can lead to unimaginable tragedy. At best, a drunk driving accident can involve a major hassle for the accident victim. At worst, an accident caused by an intoxicated motorist can instantly produce serious injuries or even death. In a state filled with bustling metros and winding rural roads, as well as all four seasons, the conditions are unfortunately ripe for accidents to occur if a resident drinks and drives.

Currently in Virginia, some repeat offenders can face only misdemeanor charges following some alcohol-related infractions that occur after a previous offense. Even more surprisingly, the prior offense can involve injury or death. Essentially, under certain conditions, someone convicted of a felony DUI could drop back down to the misdemeanor level after committing another related offense. Lawmakers want to change that leniency and have struck a clause that set a 10-year time period for repeat offenses.

DUI offenses following earlier convictions will now be Class 6 felonies in Virginia. The crackdown on drunk drivers is likely a welcome change for those on the road, but may not be of much comfort to those who have already lost loved ones to drunk driving. While the state makes changes at the highest levels, experienced accident victim attorneys can help individuals and families deal with the fallout from accidents affecting their own lives.

Source: The Free-Lance Star, "DUI laws getting tougher," Scott Shenk, June 28, 2013

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