A new drunk driving bill, SB 308, has just been passed through the Virginia Senate with an overwhelming 37-3 vote. It's now headed to the Virginia General Assembly before it becomes law. If passed, this bill would make it legal for anyone to drive along their own residential property while drunk.
Many opponents of the bill argue that it sends a message to Virginians that it's okay to get behind the wheel of a car when you're intoxicated. Proponents of the legislation don't deny that many may be left with that impression if the bill is signed into law. They, however, argue that the purpose of the bill is to prevent against situations like one that was just adjudicated in Fairfax during these past few months.
In that case, a Fairfax resident was arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after police discovered him sitting behind the wheel of his car at home intoxicated. The man was later convicted of drunk driving even though he wasn't driving at the time police detained him.
The circumstances surrounding the man's arrest have been described as unique. A Green County Sheriff's Office's first sergeant even said that such an arrest is not uncommon, but at the same time, he couldn't recall such an arrest happening during the previous year.
Some proponents of the bill note that they don't see a problem with a homeowner consuming a beer while out in their yard on a riding mower. What they are concerned about, though, is how a drunk driver may claim protections under this law under the wrong set of circumstances.
It's unclear when this bill will come before the Virginia General Assembly. Until it does, individuals will likely continue to be arrested for getting behind the wheel intoxicated, even if they never start their cars.
If you're been arrested and charged with drunk driving, then a Christiansburg DUI defense attorney can advise you of your rights in your case.
Source: CBS 19, "Drunk driving bill passes Virginia Senate," Tyler Kendall, Feb. 20, 2018