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West Virginia to Consider Increasing DUI Penalties for Higher BAC's like Virginia DUI Laws

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Aggravated DUI could soon become a statute in West Virginia. If so, it would be just the 32nd state with the DUI law. Virginia has already enacted increased penalties for BAC's of .15 or above.

Current Increased Virginia Penalties for High BAC

First Offense - Penalties i) BAC < .15 Class 1 misdemeanor (Up to $2,500 fine and 12 months in jail) with a mandatory minimum fine of $250. ii) BAC .15 to .20 If the person's blood alcohol level as indicated by the chemical test administered as provided in this article was at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 5 days or, iii) BAC > .20 if the BAC level was more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days. License Suspension License revoked for 1 year. Eligible for immediate Restricted Operator’s License. Ignition Interlock required for BAC of .15 or above. Second Offense - Penalties A) Committed within less than 5 years from a prior offense • Minimum $500 fine • Confinement in Jail for one month to one year. 20 day mandatory minimum jail sentence. • If the BAC was between .15 and .20, additional 10 days mandatory minimum jail sentence. • If the BAC was greater than .20, additional 20 days mandatory minimum jail sentence. B) Committed within 5 to 10 years from a prior offense • Minimum $500 fine • Confinement in Jail for one month to one year. 10 day mandatory minimum jail sentence. • If the BAC was between .15 and .20, additional 10 days mandatory minimum jail sentence. • If the BAC was greater than .20, additional 20 days mandatory minimum jail sentence. License Suspension License revoked for 3 years. • 2nd conviction within 5 years- eligible for Restricted Operator’s License after 1 year. Ignition Interlock required for Restricted OL. • 2nd conviction within 5-10 years- eligible for Restricted Operator’s License after 4 months. Ignition Interlock required for Restricted OL.

This October, the West Virginia legislature listens to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) forum, which proposes this charge to rid Mountaineer roads of extremely intoxicated motorists.

MADD wants stiffer punishment for those with blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) readings of .15 and higher. Current DUI law has a BAC minimum of .08.

“We’re one of 19 states that does not have an aggravated drunk driving statute,” Donna Hawkins, the state’s MADD director said. “What we’re finding is most accidents are being caused by people who are not just at .08 alcohol level but double that amount. We believe this is one way to help get those that have been drinking off the road.”

Violators May Face Ignition Interlocks

Under the proposed statute, first-time offenders would use vehicle ignition interlocks or have breath-measuring devices installed, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed too much alcohol. When interlocks were demonstrated to the legislature in September, Hawkins said lawmakers took notice.

Drunk drivers found guilty under the proposed law would pay a $150 installation fee plus $67 monthly for the interlock, according to Motor Vehicles Deputy Commissioner Steve Dale. “If you look at individuals who need to drive to work, pick up the kids from school and go about their lives as they attend a safety treatment program, it’s a bargain,” he said.

Drunk Drivers Killed 128 in West Virginia Last Year

In 2006, drunk drivers played a part in 128 fatalities in the state, while 2,600 were injured. Sixteen victims had life-threatening injuries, Hawkins said. The statistics remain unchanged the last three years. “This is why it’s so important to look at DUI laws right now to see if we can get that fatality rate down,” she added.

Read more about proposed tougher West Virginia DUI Laws.
Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts
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