New Law Toughens Penalties for Underage Drinking in Virginia
A new Virginia underage drinking law became effective on July 1, 2011. Intended to support the state's zero-tolerance policy regarding underage drinking or possession of alcohol, the law imposes harsh penalties on young drivers convicted of violating it.
Under the new law, people under 21 years old may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration greater than .02 percent. If convicted of underage drinking and driving, the possible penalties include all of the following:
- Driver's license suspension for one year
- A fine of at least $500
- Fifty hours of community service
In addition to these consequences, if the driver's blood alcohol concentration is greater than .08 percent, he or she also may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). And, the possible sentences following a DUI conviction in Virginia are among the toughest in the nation.
For many people, driver's license suspension can significantly impact several areas of their lives. Without a driver's license, individuals may have difficulty getting to work or school. In addition, conviction of underage drinking in Virginia and resulting driver's license suspension also may cause an individual's car insurance rates to increase or cause the individual to lose coverage by his or her insurance policy altogether.
While the consequences for drinking and driving offenses are severe in Virginia, such charges can be fought. With the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney, charges for DUI or the penalties following an underage drinking conviction may be reduced. If you have been charged with underage drinking or DUI in Virginia, contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in DUI cases to discuss your legal options.