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
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.
The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.
But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.
That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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