SD26 - Alternative Means of Sanctioning Habitual DUI Offenders
In 1998, the Virginia General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 200 directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to study additional or alternative means of sanctioning habitual offenders convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUI) offenses. Specifically, SJR 200 requested that the Crime Commission:
• Review drunk-driving charges and penalties;
• Examine the severity and violence of the crime and the problem of repeat offenders; and
• Develop additional or alternative methods to reduce drunk driving and to restrict the ability of persons with DUI convictions to have access to motor vehicles, either by increased jail penalties or by other penalties levied on habitual offenders.
The Crime Commission found:
• According to data compiled and provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 25% of all drinking-driver fatalities are alcohol related. The total number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities as related to the total number of traffic fatalities for the last ten year period, Has decreased only 10.1%.
• According to information provided by the DMV, there continues to be a consistently high percentage of drivers convicted of driving under the influence who are repeat offenders.
• Further, DMV records indicate that of all licensed drivers in the Commonwealth, 7% have been convicted of at least one 18.2-266 offense in the last ten years.
• At present, Virginia Code 46.2-351 provides for enhanced penalties for "habitual offenders."
• Repeat offenders are a class of individuals in need of more continued supervision and treatment.
• There is a strong desire by judges, attorneys and other interested parties to facilitate and ease the administration of the judicial process and the prosecution of the Commonwealth's.
• Current requirements for providing certificates of analysis need to be modified in order to further the administration of justice pursuant to the duties and responsibilities entrusted to the Commonwealth's law enforcement officers and attorneys.
• The Commission should continue its study to develop means of deterring chronic offenders and reducing the risk they pose to the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Based on these findings, the Crime Commission recommended:
• Third and subsequent driving under the influence offences within ten years be designated as Class 6 felonies under 18.2-270; fourth and subsequent offences be subject to a one-year mandatory minimum jail sentence.
• All persons convicted of a second offence DUI be required to enter into an alcohol safety action program prior to being considered for any level of license reinstatement.
• Those convicted of a second offence of driving while their license has been suspended for failure to pay fines be required to report to a Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program for an intervention in accordance with 18.2-271.1.
• Persons with restricted licenses issued pursuant to 18.2-271.1 be allowed to operate a care necessary to transport a minor child to and from school, day care, and facilities housing medical service providers.
• Courts be allowed to require that the defendant remain on probation pursuant to the terms of any suspended sentence for the same period of license suspension, not to exceed three years.
• Judges be allowed to issue restricted driver's licenses to persons who have had their license suspended for failure to pay fines.
• The determination and adjudication provisions of the Habitual Offender Act be repealed and stricter license revocation provisions be added to 18.2-36.1 and 18.2-54.1.