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Most people in Virginia are responsible when it comes to not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They understand that drunk driving is a crime, and therefore avoid doing it. They may ride with a designated driver, hail a taxi or simply stay where they are if possible while they sober up. This may be reflected in new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stating that Virginia ranks among one of the areas of the United States with the fewest drunk driving fatalities.

Of all U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Virginia placed sixth lowest in the number of drunk driving deaths between 1994 and 2015. It had 1.8 deaths for every 100,000 people. The District of Columbia had the fewest drunk driving deaths with 0.6 deaths for every 100,000 people. The state with the highest number of drunk driving deaths during that time period was Wyoming at 7.7 deaths for every 100,000 people.

According to a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman, Virginia's laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol are "extremely aggressive," which he feels help keep drunk drivers off the road. Virginia, for example, passed legislation -- which became effective in March 2017 -- that raises both the civil penalties and the criminal penalties for those who decline to take a breath test or blood test when pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.

Moreover, Virginia comes in fourth among all states with the fewest drugged driving fatalities -- whether the drugs involved are prescription drugs or illegal drugs. In Virginia, there were 0.11 drugged driving deaths for every 100,000 people. At 2.33 deaths for every 100,000 people, West Virginia saw the most drugged driving deaths.

While drunk driving is a serious issue, police and prosecutors in the state should not be overzealous in their apprehension of drunk drivers. It is important that otherwise sober people are not wrongfully accused of drunk driving. If they are, it may be time to consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Old Town Alexandria Patch, "DMV Roads Safer From Drunk Drivers Than Rest of Country: Study," Christ Gaudet, March 22, 2017

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