New Drunk Driving Law Extends Suspension, Raises Offense for Teens

New Va. Drunk Driving Law Tougher on Teens

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A law stiffening the penalty for teens who drive drunk took effect in Virginia Friday.

    The law doubles the suspension period for anyone in Virginia under the age of 21 found driving with a blood alcohol level of at least .02. It also elevates the offense to a class one misdemeanor.

    Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, said that penalty sends a message.

    "You're not only going to be guilty of a class one misdemeanor in Virginia, you're going to lose your license for a year," he said. "That's not up to a year, that's a year minimum."

    Laura Dawson, who lost her son to a drunk driving accident in 1999, is strongly supportive of the new law but said laws can only do so much without increased awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.

    "We're always supportive of law enforcement being able to do their jobs, but there's never going to be enough laws to stop everything," she said.

    The law isn't entirely new to Virginia. Identical legislation took effect in 2008 but had a two-year sunset provision. The new version is permanent.

    Listen to the complete story at wamu.org

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