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Drunk Driving After Stay at Home Orders in Charlottesville

April 2, 2020

Governor Northam issued stay-at-home orders for most residents of Virginia. The temporary order was issued on March 30, 2020, and is to remain in effect until June 10, 2020, subject to change. This will keep many people at home over the next weeks and may lead to a change in daily habits, including alcohol consumption. Increased drinking may still lead to drunk driving charges, even with the stay-at-home orders.

Increased Alcohol Purchases in Virginia

Virginia ABC sales are up 64% in Richmond. State liquor store sales are up 59% compared to last year around this time. Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority numbers showed an increase of just over $11 million in sales over last year. These sales are not quite as high as alcohol sales over Thanksgiving and Christmas but they are much higher than the average late March and early April sales.

The Associated Press has reported alcohol sales for the week ending March 21st are up 55% over the previous year. Liquor and pre-mixed cocktails increased about 75%, according to Nielsen research, with wine sales up 66% and beer sales up 42%.

Many restaurants in the Charlottesville area are now able to sell beer and wine to go, but so far, cocktails and liquor can only be sold at liquor stores. Under the stay-at-home orders, the ABC stores are considered an essential service and will remain open during the outbreak.

Are People Drinking More?

Residents may be buying more alcohol but they are not necessarily using more alcohol. Some people may just be stocking up in anticipation of limited availability. Others who are not able to work may find themselves with more free time on their hands and use alcohol in response to boredom.

Others may be drinking more alcohol in response to the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak. Stress and drinking can go hand-in-hand, with people drinking alcohol to forget about the problems going on in their lives, including lack of work and concern about family member's health.

Drinking and Driving Under Stay at Home Orders

Under the stay-at-home orders, all individuals are to remain at their place of residence, with limited exceptions, including for the purpose of:

  • Obtaining permitted food, beverage, goods, or services;

  • Seeking medical attention, essential social services, government services, law enforcement assistance, and emergency services;

  • Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting family; and

  • Other limited exceptions.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker was one of the city leaders asking for such an order. However, just because there are stay-at-home orders does not mean that drivers who had too much to drink will stay at home.

A driver who does not feel impaired may hop in the car to go to the store and buy more booze. An impaired driver may also need to run out for food, toilet paper, or medical supplies. The police are still out on the streets and will remain on the look for impaired drivers.

DUI Arrest in Charlottesville

The consequences of a DUI conviction are far-reaching and will leave a driver with a permanent criminal record. Your license will be suspended, you will have to attend substance abuse counseling, and you will pay significant court costs and fines. Even a first-time conviction can lead to jail time.

Charlottesville DUI Defense Lawyer

Whether you've been charged with your first DUI or your third, you need an attorney who is trained in DUI defense. Such an attorney can make sure you get the best outcome in your case. Bryan J. Jones is committed to his clients and will develop a defense strategy tailored just for you. Contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC today.