In an effort to deter drunk drivers, DUI checkpoints in Virginia Beach will continue up and running through Labor Day weekend under the police department’s “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” initiative.
As part of a nationwide campaign, the police crackdown will consist of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. “The goal is to ‘save lives and injuries’ caused by intoxicated drivers,” Officer Jimmy Barnes, a spokesman for the police department, said.
According to NewsChannel 3, ten percent of all DUI arrests in Virginia are made in Virginia Beach.
Police also say that drugs or alcohol were involved in 17 of 28 fatal Virginia Beach crashes in 2008.
In a separate but related development, the U.S. Supreme Court made it harder to convict someone for DUI when it ruled in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts on June 25 that the technician who performs a DNA, drug or breathalyzer test must personally appear in court to testify against the accused, otherwise the charges must be thrown out.
Since the Melendez ruling, the limited number of technicians in Virginia found themselves under a barrage of subpoenas from DUI defense lawyers. Some DUI cases in Virginia were dropped when an overburdened technician was unable to show up in court.
Responding to the high court ruling, the Virginia General Assembly, during an August 19 special session, in Richmond, modified the Commonwealth’s DUI law–the first state in the U.S. to do so.
Under the new measure, prosecutors must notify the accused person at least 28 days before trial that they intend to use a sworn scientific report as evidence. The defendant then has 14 days to object without a lab analyst or breath-test technician or forensic scientist personally testifying in court. If the defense objects, the technician must testify on the witness stand. If the defense doesn’t object, the sworn statement can be introduced without live testimony.
The legislature also eliminated a prior legal requirement that prosecutors must prove that breath machines in DUI cases were calibrated within the preceding six months. The state has only three technicians who calibrate and certify the more than 200 breathalyzer machines in Virginia.
Defense lawyers may still challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer, most of which apparently have a lock-out feature preventing the devices from printing a breath-test result if they haven’t been inspected for six months.
Car accidents brought about by reckless, distracted, or impaired drivers cause serious injuries and death every day across the state of Virginia.
If you–or someone you love–have been injured in a Virginia automobile accident, you need to know your legal rights. Do not hesitate to get in touch with the Personal Injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Richard J Serpe, PC., Toll Free 877-544-5323.