Intoxicated Driving Accidents Increase in Virginia

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
November 26, 2019

Intoxicated driving remains a major problem in Virginia. A recent report notes the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers in the Commonwealth rose by 12.1% in 2018.

The increase in intoxicated driving wrecks is noted in the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Crash Facts report. Drunk driving claimed 278 lives in the state. The report noted 819 people died in auto accidents in 2018. A third of all roads deaths in Virginia in 2019 was caused by drunk drivers. Intoxicated drivers left 4,475 people injured in Virginia, a 1% rise over 2017.

In Hampton, drunk drivers caused 182 crashes and claimed three lives in 2018. The city saw 160 injuries linked to drunk driving wrecks.

Intoxicated drivers caused 204 accidents in Newport News with 11 deaths and 164 injuries in 2018.

Many of those who lost their lives were drunk drivers. The report noted the deaths of 177 drinking drivers last year in Virginia, a 15.7% increase over 2017.

Virginia saw 19,790 DUI convictions, a 5.8% rise on 2017. Men are more likely to drive drunk than women. The report revealed 66.5% of DUI convictions were male and 22.6% were female.

Crashes caused by alcohol are more likely to be serious. The 7,181 alcohol-related crashes comprised just 5.4% of all traffic crashes. However, a third of all fatal crashes were caused by intoxicated drivers.

Rising numbers of highway deaths in Virginia prompted the setting up of an executive leadership team on highway safety by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in late 2018. The team is made up of representatives from the Virginia Departments of Motor Vehicles, Health, Transportation, Education, and State Police. It is headed up by the Deputy Secretaries of Transportation and Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The rise in highway deaths on the roads of Virginia in 2017 sparked the new initiative. In 2017, there were 843 fatalities on the highways of the Commonwealth. The figure represented a 20.4 percent increase in fatalities from 700 deaths in 2014.

Although the number of fatalities fell to 819 in 2018, the first decrease since 2014, the rise in deaths caused by intoxicated drivers remains a matter of serious concern.

Why Intoxicated Drivers in Virginia Pay the Penalty

You can be charged with driving under the influence in Virginia if your blood/alcohol content is at least 0.08. The average BAC for tested drivers in Virginia in 2018 was 0.147.

DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor charge in Virginia. Intoxicated drivers face a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail sentence of up to 12 months on conviction for a first offense. Intoxicated drivers also end up with a permanent record that can impact their job prospects.

The DMV  statistics show many drunk drivers who are involved in accidents suffer serious injuries and fail to survive. You may also kill or maim others and face the possibility of a lawsuit. Drunk drivers often cause serious head and brain injuries to other drivers. Virginia allows punitive damages in extreme cases to punish a drunk driver.

Intoxicated drivers cause misery every year and destroy families and lives. If you or a family member was hurt by a drunk driver, please call our experienced Hampton based personal injury lawyers at (757) 244-7000.

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