A drunk driving conviction leaves a person with a criminal record and may come with a set of penalties touted as quite strong. Unfortunately, these realities seem to matter not to too many people in Virginia as the state continues to record many automotive fatalities involving alcohol every year.

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only three fewer people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Virginia in 2018 than in 2009.

A steady trend of drunk driving deaths

In 2009, Virginia recorded 243 vehicular fatalities in which alcohol played a role. In 2018, another 240 lives were lost at the hands of drunk drivers. Those deaths in 2018 accounted for 29% of the state’s total vehicular fatalities that year.

In both 2016 and 2017, drunk driving deaths also represented 29% of Virginia’s auto deaths, up from 27% in 2015. This trend does not bode well for people who want to feel safe on the state’s roads and highways.

Tough laws may not be tough enough

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle explains that a person convicted of a first drunk driving offense may lose his or her driver’s license for a year. Second convictions may even result in a jail sentence. A person’s penalties may increase depending on the blood alcohol content level at the time of his or her arrest.

The fact that so many people continue to die at the hands of drunk drivers despite strong laws highlights the need to continually raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and to advocate for the rights of people injured or killed by impaired drivers.