Virginia motorists who drink and drive face a higher risk of being pulled over than residents in many other states, and they can expect even stricter enforcement now that the holiday season is underway. The Washington Post reports that Virginia was awarded 3.5 out of a possible 5 stars in a recent nationwide survey assessing the strictness of each state with regard to how they charge and punish drunk drivers.

In issuing Virginia’s 3.5-star ranking, several factors were considered, including whether specific rules were in place for offenders who drove under the influence of alcohol with children present in the vehicle. The overall severity of the state’s punishments for offenders were among the factors considered, too, as was the frequency of DUI-enforcement activities within state lines, such as the use of road blocks. Additional considerations used in determining state rankings included whether the state required offenders to install ignition-interlock devices, or whether laws allowed offenders to refuse breath tests in favor of blood ones.  

In the state of Virginia, per the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, motorists are not lawfully allowed to request a blood test in favor of a breath test, and even first-time offenders face misdemeanor charges if they refuse breath tests. The license revocation period for Virginia residents who refuse breath tests is one year.

Virginia offenders who drink and drive with children under 17 in the car also face mandatory jail time in addition to other penalties that may be assessed. Furthermore, all Virginia drivers convicted of DUI lose their licenses for at least a year, regardless of whether children were in the car at the time of the offense.