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
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will host a candlelight vigil of remembrance and hope Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the University of Richmond, outside the Cannon Chapel. The public is invited to attend and join MADD to honor victims of impaired driving crashes, while helping to remind the community to be safe during the holidays. > Read more.
Among participants at the Seventh Annual Coordinators2Inc Golf Tournament and awards luncheon Oct. 3 were (from left) Rebecca Ricardo, C2 Inc executive director; Kevin Derr, member of the winning foursome; Sharon Richardson, C2 Inc founder; and Frank Ridgway and Jon King, members of the winning foursome.
Held at The Crossings Golf Club, the tournament will benefit placement of children from Virginia's foster care system into permanent families through Coordinators2. > Read more.
Event will help kick of Marine Corps' 'Toys for Tots' campaign
All 140 A.C. Moore locations will serve as drop-off centers this year for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and all toys collected will stay in the local communities served by the stores in which they are donated.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Willow Lawn location will kick off the month-long program by hosting a "Make & Take" craft event for kids. Children ages six and older will be able to make a craft and take it home with them. Representatives from the Marines will be in-store to teach customers about the Toys for Tots program. A.C. Moore team members will be on site to help with the crafts. > Read more.
Bella’s feels – and tastes – like Italy should
Short Pump is known for its share of chain restaurants and strip malls, but diners looking for something more distinct can certainly find it without heading downtown or to nearby Charlottesville.
In fact, local husband-and-wife restaurateurs Valeria Bisenti and Doug Muir brought a taste of Charlottesville (and Italy) to Short Pump when they took a chance and opened Bella’s second location in the same shopping strip as Wal-Mart and Peter Chang China Cafe. (Bella’s original location is on Main Street in downtown Charlottesville.)
For a local Italian restaurant, Bella’s is as “Mom and Pop” as its gets. Valeria is Mom, and Doug is Pop. Since its opening about six months ago, diners have been eating rich comfort foods and drinking Italian wines. > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
The Cultural Arts Center unveils a new exhibit – "Sizing Up!" – Nov. 20-Jan. 18 in the Gumenick Family Gallery.
Artist Chuck Larivey has spent the past three years "sizing up" – creating large-scale oil paintings that are designed to engage their viewers in a monumental way by using size to captivate them and make them a part of the artistic experience.
The exhibit is appropriate for all ages and is free and open to the public at the center, located at 2880 Mountain Road in Glen Allen. > Read more.
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