Drinking and Driving
Provided by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program
In Virginia, alcohol-related fatalities have fallen by 37% in the last three decades; however, the chance of being in an alcohol-related crash is one in six over the course of a lifetime. (Alcohol-related means any amount of alcohol was present during the crash, as determined by the officer.) These deaths contribute to a cost of $404 million per year in the Commonwealth.
- In 2016, 33 percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related in Virginia; 243 of 2016’s 761 fatalities were alcohol-related
- In 2015, 20,768 people were convicted of DUI in Virginia
- A DUI in Virginia is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $20,000
- 28 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the U.S., or one every 51 minutes
All drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI); however, if drivers 21 and older are impaired with a BAC lower than .08 percent, they also can be convicted of DUI. Drivers under age 21 can be convicted of illegal consumption of alcohol with a BAC of .02 to less than .08.
Buzzed vs. Drunk Driving
With a third of all traffic deaths attributable to alcohol, drunk driving is deadly; however, so is driving after consuming a small amount of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a .02% BAC results in a decline in visual function, an inability to multi-task and some loss of judgement. At a .05% BAC, drivers experience reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency situations.
Virginia has some of the strongest drunk driving laws in the nation, which also apply to drugged driving. First-time offenders lose their driver’s license for a year, and have a mandatory ignition interlock device when they begin driving again. A three-year driver’s license suspension occurs after a second conviction, and 20 days in jail is required for a third conviction within five years.