Virginia's legislature takes drunk driving very seriously, and for good reason. The state has recently enacted a law that makes anyone convicted of DUI in the state to install and maintain an ignition interlock device that prevents the car from being started until the driver takes — and passes — a breath alcohol test.
Sending A Message
The laws of Virginia take underage drinking no less seriously. Teens who are caught behind the wheel with even a small amount of alcohol in their system (.02 percent blood alcohol level) will be facing a minimum of one year's license suspension, a mandatory fine of $500, a misdemeanor on their criminal record and 50 hours of community service.
These consequences are in addition to the standard penalties that would flow to any of-age adult convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater, which include:
- Installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock that must be in place before a provisional, restricted license will be issued
- License suspension for up to a year
- Possible fines ranging from $250 to $500
- Possible jail time or community service obligations
The penalties for teen drinking don't just affect teens who imbibe and climb behind the wheel, though. There are also strict laws prohibiting underage Virginians from buying or even being in possession of alcohol (except when the possession is directly related to their job or at the direction of a parent), punishable by a lengthy license suspension, a fine of $500 (or 50 hours of community service) and a misdemeanor charge on their criminal record.
Holding Parents Accountable, Too
The legislature has not only provided steep consequences for teens who drink alcohol, but have also made their parents or guardians responsible for any injuries caused as a result of intoxication. This means that if you have a teenage child who drinks or takes drugs and then hurts someone or damages property by, for example, causing a car accident, falling down a set of stairs or getting in a fight, you could be civilly responsible for the associated costs.
Parents or other adults who either allow teens to drink in the home or purchase alcohol for underage drinkers — or neglected to provide proper supervision, thus creating an environment where teens are unconcerned about consequences that might flow from drinking — might also face criminal charges. Virginia law stipulates that providing alcohol to a minor be punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, up to a year in jail and a lengthy license suspension.
If your child (or other underage loved one) is facing alcohol-related charges — or you are facing charges related to him or her being in possession of alcohol — the consequences are severe and could have lifelong effects. Having an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney on your side can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case and can help protect your rights while mounting an aggressive defense.