Tougher Laws on DWI, Distracted Driving Take Effect July 1
RICHMOND – New laws taking effect July 1, 2013 take a tougher stance on drinking and driving and driving while distracted.
Under current law, a conviction of driving while intoxicated (DWI) is not considered a felony unless it is the third DWI conviction within 10 years. Effective July 1, any DWI conviction will be a felony if a person has a prior conviction of any of the following:
Involuntary manslaughter alcohol
Involuntary manslaughter alcohol boating
Boating while intoxicated maiming
DWI third offense or subsequent
A DWI felony conviction mandates a minimum fine of $1,000 and one year in prison.
Also as of July 1, texting while driving is a primary offense with increased penalties. Texting or reading text messages while driving is illegal for all drivers, no matter their age. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense and can only be charged when the offender is stopped for another, separate offense.
A texting while driving conviction will carry a $125 fine for the first offense and $250 for the second or subsequent offenses. The current penalties are $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second or subsequent offense. The new law increases the punishment of any person convicted of reckless driving to include a $250 mandatory fine if the person was texting at the time of a reckless driving offense.
In 2012, more than 20 percent (28,112) of all crashes in Virginia (123,588) were attributed to driver distractions. More than 28,000 crashes resulted in 174 fatalities and 16,709 injuries. Nearly 1,700 crashes involved drivers using cell phone or texting while operating a motor vehicle.
"People are dying and being seriously injured because of drunk and distracted driving. Those offenses put not only the driver and their family in danger, but this risky behavior also jeopardizes everyone else traveling on the roadways," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative.
Here are some distracted driving facts for 2012 in Virginia:
Most distracted driving crashes involved drivers 21 to 35 years old
Most distracted driver crashes occurred at the end of the week on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, between noon and 6 p.m.
The top three driver distractions last year were, in order:
drivers not having their eyes on the road
cell phone use
DMV Shares Instructions for Looking Up Special License Plates
To: Law Enforcement Personnel in the Commonwealth of Virginia
From: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Law Enforcement Division
Subject: Instructions for Looking Up Special License Plates
Recently, there have been some questions about how to make a VCIN inquiry on special license plates. Although you generally enter license plate numbers as the numbers appear on the license plate of passenger cars, not all license plates can be queried this way. Special License Plates (e.g. elected officials, service members, and first responders) may have the same license plate number as a regular passenger vehicle but will need to be queried in a different manner.
For example, the Clerk of the House of Delegates and the Speaker of the House of Delegates may BOTH have a license plate number of “1.” When you encounter these special license plates, you must follow different procedures to look up the license plate number. Attached you will find a guide with instructions for looking up these special license plates.
If you have questions about these instructions, please contact Resident Agent in Charge Jim Squares at 804-249-5143.
Joseph A. Hill
Assistant Commissioner-Enforcement and Compliance
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Office: (804) 367-1579
YOVASO Launches New Website
Youth of Virginia Speak Out (About Traffic Safety) is excited to introduce their brand new website! They've been working hard to make navigating and using YOVASO online a much easier and efficient process. Almost everything can be done on their website now including contacting them, filling out forms for campaigns, registering for retreats, registering your club as a member school, requesting a training, requesting information about various topics, signing up for their newsletter mailing list, etc.
You will also find:
Information about the background of YOVASO and their current mission
Information for member schools including registrations, trainings, campaigns, retreats and a full list of member schools
Up-to-date information on all campaigns and retreats
Resources for schools and requests for loaner items
Links and information about partnering organizations
Staff information and contact information
Upcoming and current events
VIST THEIR NEW WEBSITE AT WWW.YOVASO.NET!!
Please feel free to look around and let them know what you think!
New Study a Reminder of Importance of Motorcycle Helmet Use
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2013) —Today’s study from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) is a reminder of something we have long known – the repeal of state motorcycle helmet laws is a bad and dangerous idea. HLDI’s study shows that since Michigan’s repeal of its universal helmet law in 2012, the medical costs of injured motorcyclists increased substantially, while motorcycle injury crashes also increased. This is consistent with many previous studies showing that repealing a law requiring all riders to wear helmets inevitably and quickly increases motorcyclist fatalities.
Michigan is one of six states that have repealed their universal helmet law since 1997. Only 19 states currently have universal helmet laws, and no state has enacted a law since 2004. This is despite the fact the helmet use has been cited by researchers as the single most effective countermeasure in reducing motorcyclist injuries and deaths.
The new data from HLDI adds to the evidence that motorcycle safety is going in the wrong direction. Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reported that helmet use declined six percentage points in 2012, to 60 percent.
Last month, GHSA projected that motorcyclist deaths increased nine percent in 2012. This would mark the 14th of the last 15 years in which motorcyclist deaths increased. During a period of remarkable progress in other aspects of highway safety, the increases in motorcycle fatalities have been an aberration.
While the news about motorcyclist safety continues to be disheartening, there is no mystery about what should be done to keep riders safe. As noted in GHSA’s recent report, states should address six issues:
Increase helmet use
Work to reduce alcohol impairment among motorcyclists
Work to address speeding among motorcyclists
Increase operator training opportunities
Ensure operators are properly licensed
Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists