Drinking a Little Will Cost You Lots

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

JMU Student Erin Cox admits, "A lot of people think they're untouchable and just drink and drive and don't think about it."

Driving under the influence of alcohol isn't what it used to be. Years ago, Virginia's illegal blood alcohol content was 0.15. Now, it's much lower, and some say, much more dangerous.

People don't realize how little alcohol should keep them from behind the wheel.

Harrisonburg attorney Bob Keefer says, "If you're a point zero eight you're guilty under our drunk driving laws even though you're not a drunk driver."

Keefer says he sees many clients who are uninformed about current drinking and drawing laws. The crime he says is "not" driving while intoxicated. Rather, it's reaching a BAC of .08 - a number he says is too low and convicts too many innocent people.

"The people I'm concerned about are for example, the parents of the graduating student who goes out and has a glass of wine with their meal and they feel fine but they don't understand that because of the way the system works they may end up with a point zero eight and they may end up with a DUI," Keefer says.

And they may end up paying $10,000 for a first DUI offense. That's a cost JMU graduates, and their parents, need to consider this weekend.

Hillary Wing-Richards, a JMU faculty member and co-chair of the Community Coalition on Alcohol Abuse, says, "We need to be aware of these laws and consequences."

JMU officials say they don't expect any wild parties this graduation. But Keefer says if the celebration involves any alcohol, it shouldn't involve driving.

Rockingham County Sheriffs say they'll be increasing their patrols this month, so you might expect to see a few more DUI check points.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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