Panel tightens underage-drinking laws
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday unanimously approved a bill to make underage drinking and driving punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The committee’s 11-0 vote sent the bill to the full Senate for consideration this week.
Senate Bill 770 would provide “zero tolerance” for underage drinking and driving – targeting young drivers with a blood alcohol content as low as 0.02 percent. (That means 0.02 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of an individual’s blood. The legal limit for intoxication in Virginia and most states is 0.08 percent.)
Currently, motorists who are under 21 and are caught drinking and driving can lose their license for six months and face a fine of up to $500.
Under SB 770, sponsored by Sen. David Marsden, D-Burke, such drivers could forfeit their license for a year and face a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service.
Marsden said that a previous law targeting underage drinking and driving expired last year – and that’s why his proposal is needed.
Similar bills have been proposed in previous legislative sessions. They didn’t pass partly because some officials thought such proposals might violate laws on age discrimination, Marsden said.
However, he added, the U.S. Justice Department has determined that proposals like SB 770 would not violate any federal laws or cost the state any federal funding.
Marsden said his bill is important because it makes the punishment for underage drinking and driving equal to the punishment for underage possession of alcohol.
“If you’re 20 years old and parked on the side of the road with three beers in the car, you have committed a Class 1 misdemeanor,” Marsden said.
“However, if you pull out onto the road and get caught and you don’t blow a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, you get a Class 2 misdemeanor.”
Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Martinsville, is a member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee. He supports Marsden’s bill.
“The argument in favor of it is that you discourage drinking and driving and that you put the same discouragement for drinking and driving as you do on possessing alcohol underage,” Reynolds said.
To track or comment on Senate Bill 770, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/sb770
Dr. Even Alexander, a New York Times best-selling author who has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz, was in town last week to promote his June 27 talk, "Proof of Heaven," at Glen Allen High School.
Alexander (pictured, at right, while Unity of Bon Air church member Harry Simmons interviews him) has written about what he considers to be his journey through the afterlife.
Tickets to this month's event are $25 and will support the new Bon Secours Hospice House being built later this year. > Read more.
The Innsbrook Rotary Club, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2015, has completed a number of volunteer projects this year and raised thousands of dollars for various organizations through three events.
The club's annual rose sale, benefit for youth live auction and Virginia Fire Games competition, combined with individual and corporate donations, have raised nearly $70,000 – money that the club contributes back to the community.
FeedMore is the beneficiary of the club's 25th anniversary project, which provides refrigerated trailers to be used for the distribution of food throughout Central Virginia. > Read more.
Chef Bryan Voltaggio will host a special three-course dinner event July 21-22 at his Willow Lawn Family Meal restaurant. The menu will consist of his favorite dishes and offer diners the chance to purchase a signed copy of his newly released book, HOME.
Voltaggio will attend and cook at each dinner, as well as share stories that inspired recipes for the book. > Read more.
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