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Va: Cockfighting--Bad; Drunk Driving--Not So Bad

If it's February, it must be time for a journey to the wonderland that is the Virginia legislature, where up is down, guns and kids are a lovely mix, and poking government's paws into the private lives of citizens is bad, except when it's good.

Today's exhibit: Drunk driving. In most places, drunk driving is a pretty definitely bad thing. But in Richmond in this legislative session alone, state lawmakers have killed or laughed in the general direction of bills that would have:

--increased jail time for repeat drunk drivers

--mandated special license plates for repeat drunk drivers

--banned open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of motor vehicles

--mandated a six-month driver's license suspension for those found guilty of providing alcohol to persons under 21

--created a felony penalty for drunk drivers who tried to get away from police chasing after them

--let the state put up highway signs memorializing victims of drunk driving

--and changed the law to let police base a finding of drunk driving be based on blood alcohol levels as measured "anytime after driving" rather than solely at the presumed time of driving.

It doesn't matter that some of these bills are sponsored by Republicans and some by Democrats, or that some come from northern Virginia legislators and some from lawmakers elsewhere in the state. What matters to the legislature is that folks continue to be allowed to drink and drive with only the most cursory of punishments.

"The irony, I suppose, is that Virginia lawmakers last week increased penalties for cockfighting -- no doubt due to the proliferation of cockfights in Arlington," says Kurt Erickson, president of the Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program and a lobbyist in Richmond for anti-drunk driving measures.

Drivers with prior DUI convictions are over-represented in fatal crashes, and about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving have a previous DUI conviction, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

But in Virginia, the real menace is cockfighting, which state senators last week decided to make a felony.

By Marc Fisher |  February 9, 2007; 7:37 AM ET
Previous: America's Favorite Cityscape: DC Is Tops | Next: A Virginia Republican Stands Tall--Against His Party's Infighting

Comments

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What else should we expect from Virginia. This the same state lets people carry guns into libraries.

Posted by: CEEAF | February 9, 2007 8:00 AM

Ummm, while I agree with your observations about the leniency of VA's drunk driving laws, the drunk driving/cockfighting issues can both be addressed w/o belittling one at the expense of the other. Indeed, these same drunk driving measures (the open container one comes to mind) has been attempted and failed previously.

I, for one, was pleased about the increase in penalties re: cockfighting, which is a vile, violent and unnecessary "sport." People who are willing to do such things to animals, in my view, are more likely to have violent tendencies towards people. It certainly exhibits a lack of compassion and judgment that reasonable people (hopefully) possess.

I doubt seriously that the one bill was considered at the expense of the other. Nevertheless, both sets of bills (cockfighting and the drunk driving bills) should have been acted on to increase the penalties for BOTH!!!

Posted by: JS | February 9, 2007 8:44 AM

Anti-cockfighting laws are anti-immigrant laws. Someone had to say it.

Some of those anti-drunk driving laws are a lil' sketchy, especially the license plate idea, but others (especially the open-container law and the felony for fleeing drunk drivers) seem like common sense. But you have to hand it to Virginia: They're always entertaining.

Posted by: Lindemann | February 9, 2007 8:44 AM

Brilliant politicians! How do they get elected??? Oh, lots of money. See, honest people who care about doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing never have a chance! Makes me sick. I would run, but as I am not corrupt and would try to do good things, I would not make it.

Posted by: Chris | February 9, 2007 8:45 AM

As long as we let politicians get away with this, they will continue to. Long gone are the days that they do what they think is best for their constituents (or, to put it another way, they now consider their constituents to be big business and lobbyists). Until we have a legislature made up of people like the rest of us, this will continue.

Posted by: jj | February 9, 2007 8:46 AM

Idiot,

Before you go off on VA why not check VA laws against other states? How do the Nazi's at MADD rate VA? How does VA laws against drunk driving compare to DC and MD?

I believe idiot you will find VA's are as strong if not stronger than DCs and better than MDs.

You dont live in VA so shut up punk. I wont bad mouth DC and its moves against Fenty's proposals to make the DC schools better. Its not like this is a new problem
and please all you DC residents are guilty of neglect for not giving a damn about your schools. You should all be snet to GITMO and torutred for this crime! You cant criticize Va lawmakers Marc when Dc schools have been a disgrace for 30 years at least.

And new cockfighting laws are great. Will stop other illegal activity that results from the profits from this activity and give ICE another tool to deport illegals!

Posted by: vaherder | February 9, 2007 9:01 AM

Well, some of the proposals make sense, but I'm a little uneasy about the "anytime after driving" proposal. For how long after driving? How would that work, exactly? After all, shouldn't the state be forced to prove that you were .08 or above while you were, like, actually behind the wheel? Seems to me that burden of proof should still mean something...

Posted by: Claudius | February 9, 2007 9:10 AM

I agree with you, Marc. Cockfighting shouldn't be a felony, it should be a misdemeanor, or even a legal sport like NASCAR. What were those Virginians thinking?

Posted by: Pocomoke | February 9, 2007 9:14 AM

According to USODT here are the states that do not have open container laws that are federally compliant;

Alaska
Arkansas
Connecticut
Delaware
Mississippi
Missouri
Tennessee
Virginia
West Virginia
Wyoming

Not having open container laws that are federally compliant puts these states at risk for not receiving federal highway funding. I guess the braniacs in Richmond figure they have enough money to fund all their transportation needs and thus don't need any federal dollars.

These are the six factors that NHTSA requires for a state to be deemed to be compliant with open container laws:

1. Prohibit possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle.

2. Specify the passenger area of any motor vehicle.

3. Apply to all alcoholic beverages.

4. Apply to all occupants.

5. Specify on a public highway or the right-of-way of a public highway.

6. Specify primary enforcement.

Nuff said.

Posted by: kthhken | February 9, 2007 9:14 AM

vaherder, did you even attend school?

Posted by: Curious | February 9, 2007 9:14 AM

VA is already pretty hard on first-time drunk drivers, compared to states such as MD. For your first DUI in MD, you will most likely get PBJ and a slap on the wrist, but that won't happen in VA at all. They'll usually throw the book at you and take away your license for a while.

Posted by: Courtesy Flush | February 9, 2007 9:15 AM

Marc - I was looking at the committe names that some of these bills were referred to. One was The Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. Does Virginia have a militia? If so, what does this militia do? Is it to protect Virginia from an invasion should the US Military fail to protect our borders? What powers does it have, can I join (just kidding).

Posted by: kthhken | February 9, 2007 9:23 AM

The senate didn't vote to make cockfighting a felony. They voted to upgrade it to a class 1 misdemeanor. After MS 13 gang members were found at cockfights, and it was proven they came from North Carolina to avoid the felony penalty cockfightig brings there, then it only makes sense to punish that form of animal cruelty more appropriately.

Posted by: John | February 9, 2007 9:24 AM

It would be nice if you would actually provide a reason for how some of these bills relate to drunk driving, or even why it is bad that the bills didn't pass. For example, allowing open containers for PASSENGERS does not stop the police from testing the driver's alcohol levels, and isn't it the driver that's the issue?
Also, why should buying alcohol for someone under 20, who may have served at least one tour of duty or who could be your kid drinking a glass of champagne in your home, result in losing your driver's icense? What's the connection?
And since when do we want laws with vague language like "anytime after driving"? What is the limit on "anytime"? As a hypothetical, can the fact a driver gets drunk this Friday be used as evidence that he was probably drunk last Friday when he was pulled over (but who must not have blown at least 0.08 then or else it wouldn't be an issue)?
Lastly, are you really suggesting that Virginia should stop outlawing any other cruel practice or new crimes until they pass every bill on MADD's wish list short of Prohibition?
However, since Fisher never sees fit to respond to the holes in (or complete absence of) his logic, his readers shouldn't expect any response this time either.

Posted by: Al | February 9, 2007 9:27 AM

Never mind Marc, I found the answer to my question. The Va National Guard falls under the VA statute defining the modern VA definition of a militia. Now back to cock fighting and driving with alcohol in your blood and in the car.

Posted by: kthhken | February 9, 2007 9:34 AM

quote/ For example, allowing open containers for PASSENGERS does not stop the police from testing the driver's alcohol levels, and isn't it the driver that's the issue? /endquote

Maybe not, but not receiving federal highways dollars because of non-compliance to federal regs relative to open container laws in a state that needs all the transportation dollars it can get its hands on is an issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 9:38 AM

I bleieve the "anytime" rule is an effort to close a loophole.

In some cases, I believe that drivers refused a breathalyzer and requested a blood test, That takes a decent amount of time to get done. Then, they say that, yes, they had a few drinks, but they immediately got in the car to drive a short distance before their BAC could have risen above the legal limit.

The exact wording of the bill may prevent the "week later" arguments shown above, but I'm too lazy to check.

Posted by: J | February 9, 2007 9:44 AM

kthhken: Can you join the VA Militia? You may already be a member.

VA Code Title 44 (MILITARY AND EMERGENCY LAWS) Chapter 1 (Military Laws of Virginia) seems to include every male resident 16 or over except mailmen and lighthouse keepers.

Doesn't mention if you can deploy with an open beer can, though.

I'd leave my fighting chickens home, too.

Posted by: Mike | February 9, 2007 9:44 AM

Marc --

I think you've fallen for the MADD hype here. If you look at this list, only one item -- longer jail terms for repeat offenders -- is actually about keeping people from operating motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. The others fall into two groups. Some advance the proposition that DWI is such a serious crime, and so difficult to prove, that the normal criminal judicial process -- and the constitutional protections it affords -- has to be subverted. So punishment is meted out administratively by the DMV, via license suspensions or special plates, rather than through the courts. This is very troubling because in general people have very little recourse in the administrative process -- do you remember the horror stories a few months ago about people in DC who were charged but cleared with alcohol-related offenses, but couldn't even get hearings when the DMV automatically suspended their licenses?

The other group of proposals is the neo-prohibitionist attempt to criminalize the consumption of alcohol when it is even tangentially related to the operation of a vehicle. If our true concern is preventing impaired operation, why is it a problem for a non-operating passenger to consume alchohol, or for someone to consume alcholol in a non-operating vehicle? Is the argument that after doing so, they then might operate the vehicle? That's a strange argument. In general, we punish people for criminal behavior -- not for behavior that might, or might not, at some future time become criminal. The world would be a very scary place if we started criminalizing everything that has the potential to turn into illegal behavior later if poor judgment is used.

Marc, you usually see clearly through an issue, but you got hoodwinked here.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 9:46 AM

Here's what the "anytime after driving" language says:

* Substitutes "at any time after driving" for "while driving" in the DUI statute to describe the point in time at which a concentration of .08% alcohol in the bloodstream is sufficient for conviction.

Tell me that's not more about criminalizing the use of alcohol than protecting the people. Why should we care about someone's alcohol level when they're not actually driving?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 9:56 AM

Just because drunk driving is reckless and stupid, doesn't mean that any law is a good one. Take the license plate law, for example. A big and obvious problem with that one is that, since many families share a car, it would be, on the one hand, easy to register the car in the non-drunk's name and, on the other hand, just as likely to be driven by the non-drunk. And, please forgive me for not wanting to encourage even more pathetic highway memorials. I know, I know, the deaths are the greater tragedy, but since when has a memorial stopped people from dying? It just depresses the rest of us.

Some of the ideas, like the open container one and the test-at-any-time-after one, seem good, though. As for the cockfighting law, that's an obvious result of a coalition between animal-rights activists and closeted=xenophobes. These sorts of coalitions are icky, but very common, type of thing in our political world

Posted by: Mark | February 9, 2007 10:06 AM

VA HOUSE BILL NO. 2340 "Highway signs in memory of DUI victims" actually amends an existing statute (33.1-206.1) forbidding those pathetic and dangerous roadside mounds of teddy bears, handwritten signs and flowers that have become customary to "commemorate the memory of persons killed in vehicle crashes" and "provide for the installation and maintenance of official highway signs . . . in memory of persons killed as the result of accidents involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance."


That doesn't seem unreasonable.

Posted by: Mike Licht | February 9, 2007 10:09 AM

I'm all for having a regular troll/rabblerouser who posts in this blog and offers a snarky counterpoint to all the whitebread angst and privileged liberal handwringing that goes on in here, but the one we're subjected to is partially illiterate with the apparent emotional maturity of a 13-year-old.

Vaherder, oh you of much subject/object disagreement, please stuff a sock in your "city-dwellers are idiots" hole. Your woeful use of grammar isn't exactly making a geat case for Virginia's school system there, either, sport. If anything, your posts just reinforce the perception that ROVA is full of a bunch of backwoods hicks who are dumber than the hounddogs they beat on their sagging front porches. Please go back to pulling the wings off flies, or whatever it is you people do for entertainment, and leave us nice civilized folks to our grown-up conversations? Thank you for your cooperation. We promise to vote through some decent legislation to save you ignorant country folk from yourselves. You're welcome.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 10:28 AM

Curious

Reform School. You got a problem with that punk. At least I dont have MS certs! And I am also kindergarten dropout. Was asked to leave because I tried for nap time with the hot kindergarten teacher!

And damn boy I even have a jd except mine stands for juvenile delinquent!

And Curious your curriculum vitae is?

Posted by: Reform School | February 9, 2007 10:32 AM

Never having contemplated driving drunk, I can't testify to the relative power of existing laws in Virginia, Maryland or the District when it comes to discouraging drunk driving, but I do know the following:

1. Virginia has a higher rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities than Maryland, which has a higher rate than the District.

2. All three are comfortably below the national average for alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

3. USDOT-compliant open container laws seem to be correlated with lower rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, albeit not that strongly. Of the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, those states that kthhken identifies as not having USDOT-compliant open container laws hold positions 5, 16, 26, 35, 37, 38, 42, 44, 50 and 51 in alcohol-related traffic fatalities per unit of population (with 52 being the nation's worst). Connecticut (#5) and Virginia (#16) are the ones that break the mold; Alaska's place at #26 is actually quite bad given the state's overall very low death rate from vehicle accidents. The case of Delaware (#37) is also quite suggestive, given that overall the northeast has the lowest incidence of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the country. (Every other northeastern state is above average -- the next worst are #22 Pennsylvania and #18 Vermont -- and the northeast is home to four of the five best states overall.)

Posted by: quaker | February 9, 2007 10:42 AM

cockfight participants and drunkards love soccer

Posted by: dc | February 9, 2007 10:47 AM

A little raw facts for everybody to consider. This post is longer than usual but should be read.

National Drunk Driving Statistics for 2000:

A total of 41,945 traffic fatalities, of which 16,653 were alcohol-related crashes. For the local area:

District of Columbia - 19, Maryland - 225, Virginia - 341

National Drunk Driving Statistics for 2001:

A total of 42,196 traffic fatalities, of which 17,448 were alcohol-related. For the local area:

District of Columbia - 38, Maryland - 290, Virginia - 340

National Drunk Driving Statistics for 2002:

A total of 43,005 traffic fatalities, of which 17,419 were alcohol-related. For the local area:

District of Columbia - 25, Maryland - 265, Virginia - 371

National Drunk Driving Statistics for 2003:

A total of 42,643 traffic fatalities, of which 17,013 were alcohol-related. For the local area:

District of Columbia - 34, Maryland - 281, Virginia - 364

National Drunk Driving Statistics for 2004:

There were 16,694 alcohol-related fatalities in 2004 - 39 percent of the total traffic fatalities for the year. (SoMD personal note: by my math that means almost 43,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2004).

District of Columbia - 18, Maryland - 286, Virginia - 359

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Statistics are not yet available for 2005-2006. Maybe because some of the people are still in the hospital and haven't died yet. :(

People who died at cock fights during the same time period: uh, couldn't find any statistics on that. Anybody want to argue that the numbers are similar? I get to have the side that says drunk drivers kill more people than fighting chickens.

A few other statistics: U.S. death toll in Iraq since the start of the war (3/19/2003): 3,115. (last fatality registered 02/07/2007 - Source: antiwar.com)

Total motor vehicle fatalities in the US for 2003-2004: approximately 85,643, with 33,707 deaths attributed to alcohol.

Posted by: SoMD | February 9, 2007 10:58 AM

Lack of action on cockfighting would have taken away one of the arguments in the column but would not have done squat to counteract drunk driving. And, no, it is not an anti-immigrant law. Cockfighting has been around for a while and it is cruel. One cannot do everything they did back home when they move. Insensitivity to cruelty to animals does not do anything to increase sensitivity to people. Most people who abuse spouses, or children, started by abusing animals. Defenseless is the key. Rather than criticizing th legislature for taking action against cockfighting he should applaud them and then say they also should have taken action against drunk driving. There are more people who drink and drive in the legislature than there are cockfighters. I believe that in Virginia it used to be legal to drive with an open container of liquor. Not still true?

Posted by: Steve | February 9, 2007 11:13 AM

SoMD,

You have to scale those statistics by population.

Posted by: bkp | February 9, 2007 11:17 AM

To SoMD,

While your statistics show the number of fatalities in each State, they have absolutely no bearing on the question of what impact the bills identified by Fisher would have on those statistics. Could you perhaps tell us what the impact of each of the bills (other than the increased jail time ones) would have reducing drunk driving fatalities? Hiow would allowing highway memorials stop the habitual DD from hopping into his car again?

Also, you supply your statistics on a total basis, instead of a per capita basis, in which case the numbers are much closer (i.e., Virginia has 35% more people than Maryland and 13.5 times more than DC).

Posted by: Al | February 9, 2007 11:20 AM

But what does "alcohol-related" mean? Does it mean that the fatality was caused by a person driving DUI / DWI? Or does that term include people who caused fatalities (including their own) but weren't DUI / DWI? Maybe they had a beer with dinner--is that "alcohol-related?" Does it include accidents where people were drinking but not behind the wheel? There may be some statistics inflation going on here, a common tactic of pressure groups.

If someone is driving drunk, then bust them, convict them, and throw the book at them. Mandatory jail time. License suspensions. But let's make sure that it's done through the criminal justice system, with a trial, burden of proof, etc. I think this effort to criminalize the consumption or possession of alcohol in any amount by any person who is or may be anywhere near a car for an unspecified amount of time in the future, and to do so administratively (i.e., with little or no actual proof by the state in court) is dangerous. The criminal justice system sometimes is frustrating, but subverting or bypassing it is a really bad idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 11:21 AM

Whoa.. there are cockfights in Arlington? Where?

Posted by: Arlington | February 9, 2007 11:59 AM

Mike Licht:

Amending an existing law that forbids the private construction of memorials on public property by making said memorials state-created doesn't seem reasonable at all, to me. People die all the time everywhere. I hate to be cold- I lost a brother myself to reckless driving- but it is true.

Since there is no evidence that that any roadside memorials will do more to curtail drunk driving than they will to clutter the landscape, please leave those memorials and the grief they represent where they belong- in the homes and hearts of the family. They don't belong on the side of the road. The notion they do is obscene.

Posted by: Mark | February 9, 2007 12:13 PM

"Hiow would allowing highway memorials stop the habitual DD from hopping into his car again?"

Al, it's spelled "How". Get yourself a dictionary.

Posted by: Speller | February 9, 2007 12:23 PM

Just for reference: in MD, first time offenders CAN get a "slap on the wrist", but it's not a guarantee. However, FWIW, usually a FTO gets PBJ, comm serv, alcohol class, police record AND 6 MONTHS SUSPENDED LICENSE. MVA and criminal court punishments are separate issues in MD. Doesn't sound so much like the aforementioned "slap", now, does it?

Posted by: anoninMD | February 9, 2007 12:23 PM

"Anytime after driving": Suppose I drive (with my wife) to a restaurant. I get blitzed until I'm blowing 0.10, but she drinks iced tea and stays sober. She drives us home. If we're pulled over on the way home and I'm hauled out of the passenger seat and tested, am I guilty for being drunk "anytime after driving"? What is the road-safety purpose in that?

By the way, what IS the road-safety purpose in barring a passenger from drinking? The only thing I can think of is that there might occasionally be situations where a drunk driver and a sober passenger switch places after an accident to avoid a DUI, but how often is that going to happen?

Posted by: Tom T. | February 9, 2007 12:34 PM

Hurray for the VA legislature for obstructing these laws!

My view on these drunk driving laws is similar to those on the death penalty: if someone is contemplating first-degree murder, I can't imagine him thinking to himself, "You know, I'd really like to murder that person, but because I might get caught and suffer the death penalty, I'll refrain." When we talk about stopping drunk driving, our intention is normally to try to prevent those terribly sad incidents where some blotto fool takes out a whole family. When you pay attention to these events, it always seems that the perpetrator has some astronomic blood alcohol level like 0.20. Again, the idea that this person is going to think "I'd better not have this 14th shot because I could lose my license" just doesn't hold water. And what is the normal response to show we're "doing something?" To take straight aim at the average Joe whose crime may have been having one more beer than usual or not having waited another 15 minutes before starting his car, but who didn't hurt a soul. I fear cell phone drivers more.

Posted by: Paul | February 9, 2007 12:43 PM

"PBJ"? Why does a first-time offender get a sandwich? Is it supposed to help him sober up?

Posted by: Tom T. | February 9, 2007 1:09 PM

There was a cockfighting bust in 1920 in my hometown in Pa. I know because my grandfather was caught up in it. It was considered highly immoral then as unnecessarily cruel to animals. Are we regressing?

But then my opinion of Virginia is that it has made its wealth from slavery, tobacco and the defense industry -- so it appears to be pretty much a pro-death state.

Posted by: Cockfighting Foe | February 9, 2007 1:15 PM

HOORAY FOR THE VIRGINIAS LEGISLATURE IN DECLINING TO BE BULLIED BY THE MADD NAZIS.

Too bad thta Marc has drunk of the Madd Kool-Aide. Somebody pull him over and give me a breatholizer test!

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 9, 2007 1:29 PM

HOORAY FOR THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE IN DECLINING TO BE BULLIED BY THE MADD NAZIS.

Too bad thta Marc has drunk of the Madd Kool-Aide. Somebody pull him over and give me a breatholizer test!

Posted by: Mister Methane | February 9, 2007 1:29 PM

Statistics are used wrongly to justify positions all of the time. The orginal statistics used to raise the drinking age to 21 was that the majority of drunk drivers caught were under 21. If you broke down the actual statistics you would have found that the majority of those drunk drivers were actually drinking illegaly since they were under the age of 18. The actual number of drunk drivers from the ages of 18-21 was actually lower then the ages of 21-23. I always found it hard to believe that you were mature enough to die for your country but weren't mature enough to drink. That has always been a problem for me.

As other readers have said the majority of the items Marc Fisher listed are not going to have an impact on drunk drivers at all except jail time.

In regard to the crack about guns in libraries, I haven't seen snyone killed in a library in Virginia by a person who has a license to carry. But that is fodder for another discussion.

Posted by: Dandi | February 9, 2007 2:50 PM

In general, we punish people for criminal behavior -- not for behavior that might, or might not, at some future time become criminal.

*cough* War on Drugs *cough*

Posted by: Yay America | February 9, 2007 4:28 PM

The fact that the Federal Government thinks that it is ok enforce their victimless crime legislation on Virginia time and time again with the threat of withholding highway funds if we don't comply makes me sick. They should stick to messing things up on a federal level and leave the regulation of passengers riding in a car in the Commonwealth of Virginia to our locally elected governing bodies. I think our legislature has made the right decisions despite the pressure put on them by both the feds and the Washington Post.

Posted by: Centreville | February 9, 2007 4:36 PM

Comparing drunk driving stats between D.C. and neighboring states seems pretty pointless to me. Distances are shorter, the area is all urban, speeds are generally lower, etc. etc. Apples and oranges.

Posted by: crc | February 9, 2007 4:54 PM

I drive drunk everyday and see no problem with it. In fact I'm very good at it.

Posted by: AAron Church | February 9, 2007 5:43 PM

damn, pretty soon we won't be able to marry our cousins either...

Posted by: Springfield, VA | February 9, 2007 6:02 PM

Virginia lenient?:
1st offense DUI .15 BAC--5 days jail
1st offense DUI .21 BAC--10 days jail
2nd offense DUI .15 BAC--30 days jail
2nd offense DUI .21 BAC--40 days jail
These are complete jail days with no work release or home detention. 1st offenders get their licenses suspended for 1 year while second offenders for 3 years. Virginia's penalties continue to increase along with arrests and little evidence that their approach is working. Studies show extensive probation and alcohol treatment missing in Virginia is what works best against rescidivists.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 8:01 PM

"Marc - I was looking at the committe names that some of these bills were referred to. One was The Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety."

the U.S. Constitution delianates the National Guard of every state as a militia i.e. the Maryland National Guard would be considered a militia of the state of maryland.

Posted by: aegis | February 9, 2007 10:34 PM

"VA Code Title 44 (MILITARY AND EMERGENCY LAWS) Chapter 1 (Military Laws of Virginia) seems to include every male resident 16 or over except mailmen and lighthouse keepers."

That's pretty much a U.S. Supreme Court definition of a state militia

Posted by: aegis | February 9, 2007 10:37 PM

"But what does "alcohol-related" mean? Does it mean that the fatality was caused by a person driving DUI / DWI?"

Some years back, I was amazed to discover that the term "drinking related traffic fatalities" covered a lot more than fatalities actually caused by drunk drivers. In fact, the driver didn't even have to be legally drunk - or even drinking. Some stone-cold sober driver, using a cell phone and not paying attention to the road, could run a red light, strike a pedestrian who is crossing with the light and in the crosswalk, and kill him. If the innocent pedestrian had been drinking at all, this was considered a drinking related traffic fatality in spite of the fact that his drinking had nothing to do with the accident. This didn't let the driver off the hook, of course, but this isn't my idea of drinking related.

They may have changed how they count this type of traffic fatality but I don't trust those statistics at all.

Posted by: SW Virginian | February 10, 2007 7:02 AM

Mark:

Nobody claims "any roadside memorials will . . . curtail drunk driving."

While I too would "leave those memorials and the grief they represent . . . in the homes and hearts of the family" we are greatly outnumbered by those who feel otherwise. The proposal is a reasonable compromise which keeps people from stopping cars and walking on the most dangerous stretches of highways and loosely heaping perishables in memory of loved ones. This is a national problem and the proposed solution has been found effective.

Posted by: Mike Licht | February 10, 2007 8:25 AM

Drunk Driving. Cock fights.
One of these two problems gets many people killed. Priorities. In the case of some laughing legislators, maybe it's a case of "there by the grace of God go I." Until some prominent legislator gets whacked by an impaired driver on a VA street or highway, things won't change. Then, when it happens, the "do something" crowd will go overboard. It happenened in WVA many years ago, resulting in laws that were very strong...and totally unenforcable.

Posted by: Paul Jones | February 10, 2007 9:56 AM

"Brilliant politicians! How do they get elected???"

They hide behind the euphemisms of "God," "country" and "family," that's how. Just a bunch of backward southerners; at times I'm ashamed to say I live here.

Posted by: Vincent | February 10, 2007 10:57 PM

The author of the article failed to read the Drunk Driving Laws in the Virginia Code beginning at 18.2-266. THe penalties are sever including mandatory jail and loss of license.

I guess it was slim pickings for him in terms of news material.

READ THE CURRENT LAW

Posted by: LawGeek | February 11, 2007 10:05 AM

In my view, the Virginia anti-cockfighting measure has little to do with preventing animal cruelty and a lot to do with burnishing the state's image.

Lindermann, I'm curious as to why you believe that anti-cockfighting laws are aimed at immigrants. Whenever I've read about cockfighting, the fans and organizers are usually stereotyped as hillbillies, and I always saw that as unfair to rural people.

Posted by: Tonio | February 12, 2007 12:25 PM

"I guess it was slim pickings for him in terms of news material."

Next up, "why pets are bad."

Posted by: mark | February 12, 2007 12:30 PM

Fisher,

You sissies at the Post cry about this every year.


What is wrong with open containers as long as the driver isn't intoxicated?

Virginians believe in personal accountability.

The post believes in government nannies.

Posted by: Mike | February 12, 2007 7:09 PM

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