Impaired Driving Virginia Traffic Ticket Alcohol Content Lawyers Fairfax City

Impaired Driving Virginia Traffic Ticket Alcohol Content Lawyers Fairfax City

AKANSHA v. TOWN OF CHRISTIANSBURG
Facts:

After the car he was driving was stopped, defendant exhibited several indicia of intoxication. Defendant challenged the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on the punishments for driving under the influence of intoxicants and for impaired driving, that if it had a reasonable doubt as to the grade of offense that they should find defendant guilty of the lower grade, and what constituted impaired driving. The trial court, interpreting Va. Code Ann. § 18.1-56.1, ruled that, because there was no evidence of a blood test showing defendant’s blood-alcohol content to be between 0.10 and 0.15 percent, the offense of impaired driving could not be considered by the jury.

Impaired Driving Virginia Traffic Ticket Alcohol Content Lawyers Fairfax City

Impaired Driving Virginia Traffic Ticket Alcohol Content Lawyers

Issue:

Whether under Code § 18.1-56.1, which makes impaired driving a lesser included offense of drunk driving, the defendant was entitled to have the jury instructed on the lesser offense although there was no evidence of a blood test?

Discussion:

The first paragraph of the statute creates and defines the offense of impaired driving. Under the language of the first clause of the second paragraph it is perfectly manifest that in every prosecution for driving while intoxicated. An accused may be convicted of the lesser included offense of impaired driving. While the second clause of the second paragraph provides that a presumption of impaired driving arises when the alcoholic content of a person’s blood is within a specified range, the language of the statute does not make evidence of blood-alcohol content within the specified range mandatory before the lesser offense can be considered. Hence in every prosecution for driving under the influence of intoxicants an accused is entitled to have the triers of fact consider the offense of impaired driving even though there is no evidence of the alcoholic content of his blood. We hold that under the provisions of Code § 18.1-56.1 the trial court erred in not granting the instructions requested by the defendant. The judgment of conviction is set aside and the case is reversed and remanded.

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Article written by A Sris

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Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.