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Legislative Update

MADD worked in tandem with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and other traffic safety partners to lobby for bills we supported and against bills we thought would be detrimental. Kurt Erickson, the President and CEO of WRAP, created the following summary of bills that were particularly relevant. Read an excerpt from his legislative summary here…

Virginia’s 2017 session of its General Assembly adjourned on Saturday (Feb. 25, 2017) in Richmond and giving credence once again to The Washington Post quote that “for some people, dead bills represented victories” (2-10-14), the stopped forward progress of at least one of the 2,959 bills introduced this session was a victory for WRAP and its lifesaving mission. Specifically, said “non-advancing” bill was House Bill 1644 and which sought to have transdermal, SCRAM-like devices take the place of Virginia’s ignition interlock program. Earlier this session, WRAP teamed-up with MADD-Virginia to address said interlock legislation as well as this year’s commercial DUI bills including meeting with the bills’ sponsors with the sponsor of the interlock measure (Delegate Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond) kindly tabling the legislation.

Conversely, legislation introduced this session and which would modify Virginia’s implied consent statutes in response to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Birchfield v. North Dakota) relative to both the criminalization of BAC test refusal and warrants for said tests is already on Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) desk and due to such being introduced as emergency legislation would become law upon the Governor’s sought signature. Specifically, House Bill 2327 (sponsored by Winchester Delegate and former Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Collins [R]) seeks to address the aforementioned court decision (including its ruling as unconstitutional criminal penalties for refusing such tests [Virginia is one of a minority number of U.S. states which currently criminalizes blood alcohol concentration test refusals]) while, ideally, preserving the legal presumptions which currently come with the Commonwealth’s current implied consent laws. More specifically, HB 2327, a measure supported by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorneys: replaces the criminal penalties for blood test refusal with civil penalties including a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first refusal; leaves breath test refusal sanctions the same but elevates subsequent breath test refusals to a Class 1 misdemeanor; retains the aforementioned .08 BAC rebuttable presumptions if blood tests were performed via a warrant; and prioritizes warrants for DUI blood tests by Virginia’s judges and or magistrates.

Other bills advancing to Virginia’s Governor’s desk this year include those proposing to:

  •  alter the effective date for ignition interlock use (in tandem with the issuing of a restricted license) (HB 2231);
  • define how and when DMV can revoke or suspend a driver’s license based on other states’ convictions (HB 1525);
  • limitedly allow restricted licensees to drive to/from job interviews (SB 817);
  • synchronize DUI and commercial DUI sanctions (HB 1622);

Other bills failing to advance in Richmond this year include those proposing to:

  • expunge certain underage drinking offenses (SB 796);
  • double the “look-back” period for felony DUI charges (HB 1403);
  • allow persons convicted of DUI an additional 15-days to install their ignition interlock device (SB 890);
  • alter the geographical prosecution venue for ignition interlock offenses (HB 2268);
  • mandate ignition interlock use by persons convicted of DUI manslaughter (HB 2238);
  • require seatbelt use by all vehicle occupants (HB 1558);
  • and prioritize warrants for DUI blood tests by Virginia’s judges and or magistrates (SB 1564) – but already contained in the above, advancing HB 2327.