With many Northern Virginians residing close to the nation’s capital, residents are generally familiar with efforts to legislate personal responsibility. Seat belt laws, for instance, or regulations on cell phone usage are helpful reminders that safety should be everyone’s priority when on the road. Of course, not all drivers behave conscientiously all the time, which is one reason why Virginia enacted a tougher law regarding drunk driving last year.

Over the past year, the amount of drunk drivers forced to install an ignition interlock device on their car has risen a whopping 75 percent. This substantial increase comes as a result of Virginia’s tough stance against those who are apt to cause a drunk driving accident. According to data released by the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, over 8,000 drivers who had been previously convicted of a DUI were enrolled in the state’s ignition interlock program in the 11 months since the new law took effect.

AAA Mid-Atlantic notes that 229 people lost their lives as the result of a drunk driver last year in Virginia. This frightening figure accounts for almost one-third of all traffic deaths in that same period. Of course, a drunk driving accident does not have to kill in order to damage or devastate. Auto accidents involving alcohol left 5,861 people with injuries last year.

Thanks to new, more aggressive stances against drunk driving, Virginia is sending a strong message against irresponsibility. Nonetheless, given last year’s statistics, it is unlikely that these incidents will be a thing of the past anytime soon.

Personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits in the civil arena can complement the strong efforts made in criminal courts to right the wrongs of a drunk driver. Those affected by another’s drunk driving can contact a local attorney to get more information on holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions.

Source: The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “More Va. drunk drivers told to have breathalyzers,” Aug. 1, 2013