According to the American Automobile Association, more than 42 million people will be traveling the roads this Fourth of July weekend. Virginia alone is expected to have 1.2 people drive at least 50 miles this weekend. As fun as this holiday is, chilling by the pool with a cool drink, please make safety your priority and get back home safe! This weekend, the Virginia State Police will increase their patrols, hoping to reduce accidents in the area. Unfortunately, last year there were 12 traffic deaths, 61 drivers were arrested under the influence, 4,025 speeders, 1,434 reckless drivers, and 510 citations were issued to people not wearing their seatbelt.
Remember, Virginia treats all first offense DUI and DWI as a criminal act under Virginia Code § 18.2-270. You can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher, or if you have detectable controlled substances in your system. So, if you are looking to kick back and relax this weekend, make sure you have a designated driver. Any person that is driving under the influence and it is their first DUI, is facing a minimum fine of $250, a requirement to complete the Alcohol Safety Action Program, up to 12 months in jail, and a one-year license revocation. If this is your second or third DUI, you are facing even more serious consequences. If you are under the age of 21 and convicted of a DUI, you are facing a mandatory one-year suspension of driving privileges, a minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service and up to 12 months in jail. You should also expect to receive six demerit points on your driving record if convicted of a DUI.
Reckless driving is also a serious offense in Virginia as it is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 46.2-868. There are 16 offenses in Virginia that constitute reckless driving. The most common offenses are those that involve speeding. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-868, you can be charged with reckless driving for speeding more than 20mph over the posted limit or speeding more than 85mph over any posted speed limit. Other common offenses charged as reckless driving include driving too fast for road conditions under Virginia Code § 46.2-861, and failing to maintain proper control of the vehicle under Virginia Code § 46.2-853. Getting a reckless driving ticket is no fun and can result in some serious consequences. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-11, punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is either confinement in jail for up to twelve months or a fine of up to $2,500. You should also expect to receive six demerit points on your driving record if convicted of reckless driving.
A car accident, a ticket for driving under the influence or reckless driving, or even a citation for not wearing your seatbelt, is not something you want to face this weekend. Have a fantastic Fourth of July and remember to make safety your priority!