Virginia law enforcement is perpetually on the lookout for drivers who might be under the influence. This is true year-round. However, there are times that law enforcement believes drivers might have a greater propensity to drink and drive. With that, law enforcement will move forward with a more aggressive enforcement period. Recently, the commonwealth initiated an annual crackdown called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
Increase in DUI accidents
The justification for the enhanced enforcement is the number of accidents in 2022 that were connected to alcohol use. More than 6,900 accidents occurred with nearly 4,200 injuries and 274 lost lives. This was an increase of 11% when compared to the previous year.
The program was used through the Labor Day holiday with a significant spike in officers who were on patrol and sobriety checkpoints in place. Statistically, the demographic most frequently charged with DUI were drivers 21 to 35. The program has undoubtedly been effective in reducing the number of accidents with a 38% reduction in DUI crashes, a 23% drop in deaths and injuries reduced by half. Still, that does not mean every DUI traffic stop should warrant a conviction.
For a DUI charge to be valid, certain basics must be in place. The breathalyzer machine must be properly calibrated and the operator certified to use it. The stop must have been justified. Any misstep with this process could render the evidence inadmissible.
The driver who was stopped at a checkpoint or because of the way in which they were driving might not have been under the influence. Simply accepting the arrest and potential conviction is a mistake when there are available avenues of defense that can be achieved through aggressive litigation.
DUI consequences go beyond basic penalties
A DUI charge can be problematic in many ways that go beyond fines, a driver’s license suspension and a potential jail sentence. It can appear on a person’s driving record, result in higher insurance rates, be a negative when they are trying to get certain jobs and more. It is important to understand that there are effective strategies to fight the charges, particularly when they occurred during a heavy police presence and aggressive enforcement period.
There is nothing wrong with forging an aggressive defense. That includes questioning the justification for the traffic stop, the testing procedures and whether the driver was under the influence at all. This is key for everyone who is facing these charges, but it is especially vital for younger people whose entire future is in front of them.
Although this recent crackdown is over, law enforcement will be out in force after major events, during long weekends and the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. Knowing the value of a strong criminal defense is critical to avoiding the worst possible penalties. Anyone charged with DUI should be prepared to fight to try and achieve a positive result.