Drunk and Reckless Driving
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What Is Drunk Driving?
Drunk Driving, sometimes called Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI), has two meanings:
- Driving with a blood alcohol level over the state’s maximum permissible blood alcohol limit. The limit for adults is either 0.08% or 0.10%, depending on the state. As of October 2000, the following 19 jurisdictions used the 0.08% standard to define drunken or impaired driving: Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington State. Massachusetts and South Carolina do not use numerical limits. All other states used a 0.10% limit. Additionally, some states have “zero tolerance” limits for young drivers.
- You may also be guilty of DUI / DWI when your physical abilities are impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol while you are driving. In the eyes of the law, it makes no difference whether the drug is legal or illegal, prescription or over-the-counter. If taking that drug impacts your ability to see, hear, talk, walk and/or judge distances, you may be guilty of a drunk driving offense.
What is the punishment for drunk driving?
The punishments for Drunk Driving vary according to the laws of different states and the customs of local jurisdictions. Generally speaking, a conviction for a first offense may involve a fine, license suspension or restriction, attendance at a DUI education course, and/or probation for a few years. A short jail sentence may or may not be required; for a second offense, it almost certainly will be. Additional punishments may involve community service, ignition interlock devices, and/or impounding of the vehicle.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Many states follow the Uniform Vehicle Code. It defines reckless driving as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” In order to charge someone with reckless driving, the prosecutor must show that a driver did not care about the harm resulting from his or her driving, and that the driver should have realized such driving posed a hazard. When another person is killed as the result of reckless driving, the offending driver may be prosecuted for vehicular homicide, which is punishable by imprisonment and a fine.
What are the punishments or fines in Virginia for Reckless Driving?
In Virginia, DUI/DWI and Reckless Driving are Virginia Criminal Class 1 Misdemeanor charges carrying the possibility of up to one year imprisonment, fines up to $2500, and/or license suspensions. As of July 1, 2004, with the “Virginia DUI/DWI Enhanced Punishment” provisions, some cases require mandatory jail time upon convictions.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Drunk driving and Reckless Driving are very complex charges with increasingly harsh consequences. Defendants will likely encounter a minefield of complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional, sentencing, and administrative license issues.
A qualified Virginia Criminal Defense attorney, however, can review the case for defects, have the court suppress evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath analysis machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension, and more.