Drunk driving bill on private property passes Senate, heads to House

Drunk driving bill on private property passes Senate, heads to House
Tim Kaine celebrates his 60th birthday. (Source: Pixabay)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the General Assembly, a law that just passed in the Senate has some people scratching their heads.

It would essentially make it legal for people to drink and drive but only their own private property.

"If you're on your own private property, I don't see the problem with that," said Chesterfield resident Harold Jeeter when he learned about the bill.

Senate Bill 308, a bill that if signed into law, would exempt any person operating a motor vehicle while under the influence from being charged with DUI, as long as they are on their own private residential property.

It's an idea that not everyone is on board with.

"I still don't think it's safe even if it's on your own property, you're still impaired," said Eric Gray, who is against the idea of a DUI on private property.

Dana Schrad with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police says that for supporters of this bill, it's an issue of freedom from the government.

"I really don't think it has to do with whether or not people want to able to drink and drive. They just don't want to be interfered with on their private property," said Schrad.

Schrad says the bill mostly affects people who live in rural areas and have a lot of private land to drive on.

While the bill would also apply to people who live in suburban areas, the moment they drive off their driveways while under the influence of alcohol, they would be breaking the law.

"Still, if you're on private property and people are drinking, that doesn't necessarily say that they are going to stay on their property," said Jeeter.

Violation of the current law would result in a class one misdemeanor, which could result in the loss of your drivers' license, a minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service.

Schrad says the bill may send mixed messages to young drivers.

"From a law enforcement perspective, we're very much concerned that we're sending the wrong message to young people that there would be an acceptable to drink and drive, that it's okay, and how do you let them know that that doesn't translate to public roadways," said Schrad.

The proposed bill will now go to the House of Delegates for consideration.

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