Motorists in Virginia and around the country can be charged with driving while under the influence when they get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Prosecutors usually rely on toxicology test results to establish that a DUI suspect was impaired, but blood and breath analysis does not always tell the complete story. This is because there is a rare medical condition that can elevate blood alcohol levels substantially even when those who suffer from it consume no alcohol at all.
Breath-testing equipment used by police departments in Virginia and around the country often provide the key pieces of evidence in drunk driving cases. Prosecutors rely on toxicology test results when motorists are suspected of driving while influenced by alcohol because the link between elevated blood alcohol concentrations and intoxication is well established, but the science of THC impairment is more nebulous. Several companies are working to develop breath-testing devices that police officers could use to find out if motorists have smoked or otherwise consumed marijuana, but this equipment may be of little practical use even if it works.
A growing number of people in Virginia and across the country are facing DUI charges based on allegations of driving under the influence of cannabis. As more and more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, some say that the threat of drugged driving has risen even as alcohol intoxication while driving has decreased. However, while alcohol-related DUI and drunk driving charges are often relatively clear, there is no such clarity regarding cannabis and DUI. There is no cannabis equivalent of the BAC, the legal limit on alcohol consumption while driving.
An annual campaign to reduce incidents of drunk driving began in Virginia a week before Labor Day. The Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign increases the presence of law enforcement throughout the state in order to combat alcohol-impaired roadway fatalities. In 2018, Virginia saw a 12% increase in traffic deaths related to alcohol-impaired drivers, and authorities are alarmed that the problem could only get worse during the coming years.
Virginia Beach ranks among the country's top 10 communities for people convicted of drunk driving, according to one report by an insurance quote company. The city comes in at No. 10 on a list ranking urban areas by the number of drivers who have gotten DUIs on their records. Local officials said that they were troubled but not surprised by the result, noting that there are a large number of drunk driving arrests that take place every year in the city. In addition, local police often focus heavily on sobriety checkpoints and other tactics that lead to more drunk-driving arrests.
The ketogenic diets that have recently become popular in Virginia might fool the portable breath-testing technology used by most police departments, according to some scientists. While research into the phenomenon is sparse, individuals following low-carb diets have been known to find it extremely difficult to start vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices.
On March 26, a woman who was driving an ice cream truck while drunk was sentenced to six years in prison on a hit-and-run charge. She was also given an additional 10 days for being in contempt of court. The incident occurred on July 15, 2018, which is also known as National Ice Cream Day. At about 6:38 p.m., she hit a vehicle that had three people inside of it.
With the arrival of spring and a number of events and holidays, such as spring break, more people are expected to be on the roads in Virginia. Some of these drivers may be intoxicated while driving. However, there are a number of steps people can take to make sure that they and their friends are not impaired while behind the wheel.
On Feb. 20, a 20-year-old Virginia man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after he overturned his pickup truck in Stafford. The accident occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Virginia motorists may face a more serious likelihood of a drunk driving arrest if the recommendations of a panel are enacted by the state. The federal government commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to make recommendations that could help to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents on the road. Each year, around 10,000 people lose their lives in such crashes across the country.