Arlington, VA

By Criminal Defense Attorney Patrick Woolley of Price Benowitz LLP

Virginia police departments know they are going to have a problem on their hands during the holiday season. There are going to be more drunk drivers on the road. Many departments throughout the state say they are taking the same measures as they do throughout the year to combat the problem.

However, the numbers show they have already been making more arrests over the holiday season.

According to the Virginia State Police, there were 11 fatal traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving weekend. From Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25, nine drivers, two passengers, and a motorcyclist were killed.

That same weekend, police in Chesterfield County charged 16 people for driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence. An officer in Chesterfield County was also hit by a drunk driver on the Sunday of the long weekend. Luckily, he was not seriously injured.

In total, 102 drunk drivers were arrested by state troopers over the Thanksgiving weekend. However, police departments across the state are saying that despite these numbers, they did not ramp up their law enforcement efforts during the holiday. It seems people may just be more likely to drink and drive during this time.

“Local police departments may not have had an increased presence over the Thanksgiving holiday,” says Patrick Woolley of Price Benowitz LLP, “but they will increase checkpoints and the number of patrolling officers over Christmas. It is vital that anyone that has had too much to drink find another way home other than driving themselves. This will not only reduce the number of fatalities, but also ensure they do not face the serious consequences that come with a drunk driving charge.”

Even if an accident involving a drunk driver occurs and no one is hurt, the driver will face many penalties. A first-time offense will result in a $300 fine if convicted, and the driver will lose their license for one year. Worse yet, individuals convicted of drunk driving will have a criminal record that will follow them around for the rest of their life.

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