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January 2017 Archives

Virginia woman faces DWI charge in accident involving policeman

All drivers have likely had a moment when they were momentarily unaware that traffic had slowed or stopped. In most cases, drivers are able to recover from a momentary lapse (that can occur for a variety of reasons). In some rare cases, an accident occurs. Unfortunately, a woman in Virginia faces a DWI charge after police say that she crashed into the rear of an unmarked police car.

The unanticipated costs of enforcing certain criminal laws

The state of Virginia has recently announced that it will be cracking down on illegal cigarette sales. Some individuals or criminal organizations allegedly buy cigarettes in bulk in Virginia, where the tax is only $3 a carton, smuggle them to New York, where the tax is $44 a carton, and sell them directly to consumers for slightly less than what they would cost locally. The enterprise is said to be more profitable than trafficking in harder drugs.

Facing charges for driving under the influence - of caffeine?

One of the most bizarre cases of a DUI recently came from California and concerns a man who was pulled over and tested both with a breathalyzer and a lab blood test. The former indicated zero blood alcohol content, and the latter revealed that the man had not used any of the usual recreational narcotics that impair driving, but did show that the man had consumed caffeine. Even though drinks that have caffeine are not known to impair driving, the unfortunate driver is facing a DUI charge anyway.

License plate readers & databases: legal dilemmas abound

In theory, automatic license plate readers can be an effective crime-fighting tool. The idea is that the optical reader scans the license plates of cars going down the road and creates a record of the license plate, model and make of cars, and the time and place that the record was retrieved. The record is compared to a “hot list” of license numbers of cars involved in a crime, stolen vehicles, hit and runs, or cars seen leaving a crime scene. The information is sent to an officer near where the recording took place who can then follow up. A large number of crimes have been solved that otherwise might not have been, using this system.

Will sentencing reform continue after President Obama?

Virginia is notoriously harsh in the prosecution of people charged with low-level drug offenses. Possession of certain scheduled narcotics has been classified as a class 5 felony, for example. In a law-and-order culture informed by the war on drugs, prosecutors seemingly compete with one another to exact the longest sentences they can manage, often tacking on other charges such as possession of a firearm, to make the incarceration even harsher than it otherwise might be.