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Drunk Driving Laws For The Drivers And Passengers’ Safety

Happy hour is an important part of some peoples’ day most especially in Virginia where there are many military bases and armed forces retirees relaxing over an alcoholic drink is almost a tradition.   Unfortunately, most people who have these relaxing drinks do not choose to walk home. Once they get into their vehicle and drive away, they may be classified as impaired and thus liable to be arrested for driving under the influence in Virginia.

Some of the steps which should be taken by hosts who are serving guests with alcohol include not putting excess alcohol into any mixed drink, serving foods which are high in protein or carbohydrates.  These substances help prevent the absorption of the alcohol into the bloodstream while foods which are high in glucose (sugar) will speed the absorption. Any guest who appears to be drunk should be ‘cut off’ and arrangements should be made to have the person transported home safely by someone else (including a taxi) or the guest should remain at the party venue until sobered up. Finally, any host should cease to serve alcohol several hours before the end of the event. This may not be popular with the heavy drinkers and may encourage them to leave and go elsewhere but will prevent you, as the host, from sharing the responsibility for damage, injury or fatality caused by the exiting drunk driver.

AutoInsuranceInVirginiaAlcohol is not the only substance which can impair the ability of a driver. Prescription medications, non-prescription drugs, and illegal (street) drugs can all have a significant impact on the concentration abilities of the driver. A user of a hallucinogenic compound such as LSD is not a driver you want to encounter on a roadway. While he is seeing psychedelic patterns in the road line markers, you are seeing a weaving speeding 2 ton weapon aimed at you. Unfortunately, medications interact with each other and with alcohol in a manner which may not be predictable. Your age, diet, amount of sleep and other factors will influence whether you would be a safe driver after having consumed your medication.   Minor amounts of alcohol can join with medications for depression, diabetes, heart conditions, and other routinely prescribed chemicals and make them work excessively or nullify them out. Many antibiotics are rendered useless if taken with alcohol.

Once drunk or impaired, the driver cannot will himself be sober again. Time must pass for the absorption of the remaining alcohol in the stomach and intestines and to eliminate the amount already carried within the bloodstream. Drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages does not change the fact of drunkenness.  It merely focuses the drunken person on the need to become sober and keeps them awake while the time passes.

For driving purposes you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be in trouble if you are caught by law enforcement. The issue not how long or hard you have been drinking but how drunk you are at the moment stopped by the police. One excessive celebration can get you arrested, booked into jail, and facing the full force of the Virginia DUI legal procedures.   Loss of license and the expenses of bail, attorney’s fees, fines, counseling, risk reduction classed, and reinstatement of license are only part of the concern.

Obtaining insurance for driving after reinstatement is an expensive proposition. Investigation into the various forms of VA car insurance and the costs can be started by putting your zip code into the box on this page.  Competitive rates will be displayed along with the companies which offer them. Each of these disclosures will be additional education for the Virginia driver who wants to be safe and compliant.

Special Issues of Traffic Violations For Virginia Drivers Under The Age of 18

The steps for a teen to get a learner’s permit and then a license involve education, supervised driving, and passing a written and on-the-road examination in Virginia. The special effort to educate does not cease there.

Demerit points are the penalties given for infraction by teens of the Virginia laws regarding operation of their cars on the roadway. Demerits are assigned for speeding, excessive or reckless lane changes, and moving violations of any kind. Accumulation of demerit points by a teen under age 18 (including for seatbelt and child restraint rules) will cause automatic loss of license.  The first requirement will be completion of a Driver Improvement Clinic. If that is not done within 90 days, then the teen’s license will be suspended by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles until the program is completed.

Incurring the second demerit point (including for seatbelt and child restraint rules) while under the age of 18 will cause an automatic license suspension for 90 days. A restricted permit to drive to work or school may potentially be obtained after petition to Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. This restricted license is discretionary. Most teens will be walking at this point until the suspension ends.

After a third demerit point (including seatbelt and child restraint rules) for an act committed while the teen had not yet reached the eighteenth birthday, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will revoke your permit or license for one year or until you reach age 18,  whichever is longer.

Teens can receive 5 safe driving points if they take and voluntarily complete a Driver Improvement Course, however those point would not be available if the course were required by VA Department of Motor Vehicles or a Court. Please note:  Virginia does not accept online courses as equivalent to the driver improvement clinic. Attendance at a classroom course is required.

What has not been spoken of during this review of the penalties for under 18 drivers in Virginia is that their ability to be covered by insurance has become more remote and expensive with each demerit.   Costs of insuring a single driver under age 25 are high but those costs escalate when there have been demerits, accidents or citations from another jurisdiction. Parents often pay the VA car insurance costs for these young drivers, therefore they should be diligent in supervising the teen long after the driver’s license has been issued. Costs for insuring a reckless, speed driven teen is often so high that the expense alone requires that the teen come off the parents’ policy, and is therefore uninsured. Being in a collision with an uninsured teen driver with a suspended license can be a horrific experience.   Your own auto insurance should be your security in a time such as this.   If you want to have coverage to pay for damages done to you, your passengers and your own vehicle, you should at least have your own coverage on which to rely.

Put your zip code in the block at the top of this page and receive information on cheap, competitive rates by some Virginia car insurance companies approved to transact business in Virginia. This information will give you a starting point to be able to make wise insurance decisions.

Auto Insurance Coverage Requirements In Virginia

Operation of a motor vehicle in Virginia requires that the owner have obtained insurance coverage from an approved company and maintain that coverage throughout the time the auto, truck, motorcycle or other type of vehicle is used in the State. Having this insurance coverage in place is a pre-requisite for the issuance of a vehicle license plate.  Termination of coverage without using one of the other approved non-insurance methods will require that the owner of the vehicle surrender the license plate to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Virginia requires minimum insurance coverage as follows:

  • Death or bodily injury to one person  $25,000
  • Death or bodily injury to more than one person  $50,000
  • Damage to property  $20,000

As an alternative to obtaining this insurance coverage, a person can deposit a fee of $500.00 with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles which allows the operation of the uninsured auto – but which is not insurance. A driver would still be responsible for the payment of all damages which might be caused by and damage or collision.  Further, when the vehicle registration expires, in order to renew the registration for a new interval, an additional $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee must be paid.  Clearly, having the state minimum insurance coverage is a better financial choice.

There are alternatives for businesses to having auto insurance coverage, such as the use of surety bonds and commercial self insurance plans, but these options are very expensive unless a large company or fleet of vehicles is involved. When insuring one or two vehicles, it is more logical to have cheaper, verifiable, clearly understood coverage. That type of automobile insurance is best obtained through a reputable insurance company. Comparing auto insurance coverage quotes In VA from several companies can provide excellent information about the details and costs of any policy.

Virginia penalizes the owner of a vehicle which is operated without state minimum coverage or payment of the UMV fee by suspending the driving and vehicle registration.   Reinstatement will usually require:  payment of a mandatory $500 fine, filing an SR-22 (Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate) for three years, and payment of any additional reinstatement fees which may be required.

How would Virginia know that the insurance was cancelled or expired? Actually there are a number of ways:

1. Insurance companies must electronically report to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles when a policy is created, cancelled, or suspended.   This information is available to the Department Clerks when a vehicle registration needs to be examined.

2. When any accident or collision occurs the law enforcement personnel will check the status of the insurance — and issue citations or arrests if necessary.

3. Any individual may choose to report an incident or accident where the police were not called and this report may trigger an examination of the insurance status. Such reports are submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles by spectators, involved passengers or drivers, or anyone else who has concerns about the sobriety, health or ability of the driver involved. This reporting program is one means by which aged or ill drivers are monitored for safe habits and to determine if they meet the state of Virginia requirements for operating a vehicle.

4. Finally, and very commonly, there may be checkpoints set up by law enforcement for verification of operator’s license and VA car insurance coverage.

Each of these situations can have unfortunate consequences for the uninsured vehicle owner, any of which can be avoided by procuring the state minimum coverage from a reputable insurance company.   Obtaining quotes for the best insurance coverage is not complicated. Just enter your zip code in the box at the top of this page and you will receive information on at least three competing companies and their costs.   Compare the costs and you may realize that having insurance is a necessity in operating a vehicle in Virginia.

The Consequences Of Not Having Auto Insurance Coverage In Virginia

Every day individuals get behind the steering wheel of their vehicle without thinking about their automobile insurance coverage.   The law in Virginia is that the owner of every vehicle must have mandatory minimum coverage or their license plate can be seized and the vehicle impounded.   The driver and owner are also subject to fines or other consequences. Appropriate automobile insurance will eliminate that risk and protect the driver, passenger and owner of the vehicle from much of the economic loss of an accident or collision.

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and reported by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles,  there is a fatality in a vehicular crash every 16 minutes.   A person is injured in a crash every 14 seconds.  There is property damage from a crash every 8 seconds and law enforcement reports a crash (which may be one of the above or may be a crash without damage or injury) every 6 seconds.   Considering the number of vehicles on the roads today and the enormous variance of skill levels among the drivers, there is a substantial risk that anyone can be involved in a collision at any time they are near a roadway.

Virginia strives to make certain that all vehicles which are registered in that state have at least a minimum amount of liability insurance.   If the vehicle is found to be operating without having the state minimum requirements (Death or bodily injury to one person  $25,000;  Death or bodily injury to more than one person  $50,000;  Damage to property $20,000)  then the license plates must be surrendered to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the vehicle parked until the condition is remedied.   Even Antique vehicles which are otherwise not required to have Emission inspections must have the state minimum liability coverage.

Appropriate insurance, however, is not limited to the state minimum liability levels. Note that none of those categories pay for injury to the driver. Mandatory coverage is for the benefit of other persons and property, not that sustained by the vehicle owner. If there is a collision with damages over and beyond that covered by the state minimum levels, then the owner and driver can find themselves paying those debts from their personal assets.   If there is personal injury where the medical bills and lifetime injury to the survivors exceeds the state minimum coverage then any excess is still the responsibility of the vehicle owner or driver if he or she is at fault.    Insurance policies can and should be written to protect the owner and occupants of the insured vehicle as well as other cars, people or property involved in the incident.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist insurance is a form of policy which can be written by VA car insurance companies authorized to do business in Virginia.  This policy coverage protects YOU if you or your vehicle is struck by someone who has the state minimum coverage or no insurance.   By obtaining UUM coverage you can protect yourself and your passengers from being in pain and having no means to pay the bills.

Consequences for failing to have state minimum insurance coverage in Virginia include suspension of the driver’s license and vehicle registration.  There are reinstatement fees which exceed $500.00 plus the filing of a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) for three years,   plus a fee to the DMV.   Consequences for failing to have sufficient insurance (that amount necessary to meet the costs of an accident or collision) can be a lifetime of debt, pain and suffering.

At the top of this webpage you will see a box into which you can insert your zip code and then receive three or more competitive quotes for cheap but appropriate VA auto insurance policies. Compare – you may find that you can afford to drive legally in Virginia and still protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a problem on the roadway.