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Proposal makes drunk driving more costly
Pittsylvania County

Proposal makes drunk driving more costly

Those convicted of DUI would have to reimburse emergency responders under measure

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Drunken drivers could end up paying more if they’re convicted for their offenses in Pittsylvania County and volunteer fire and rescue departments are called to the scene of a DUI accident.

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing during its Nov. 18 meeting over a proposal to make those convicted of DUI reimburse first responders for expenses incurred as the result of an accident.

The board voted 6-0 during its regular meeting Monday night to set the public hearing.

Under the proposed revision to county code, any person convicted of driving while impaired, reckless driving and/or improperly leaving the scene of an accident could be held liable to the county or to any responding volunteer fire or rescue squad or both for incurred costs.

The change also includes expenses incurred by law enforcement, including the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. The commonwealth’s attorney would request the fees be added to court costs and other fines at the time of sentencing, said County Administrator Clarence Monday — or the county or volunteer rescue squad could seek reimbursement from an offender through a separate civil action.

“It’s just a way to help recover those costs,” Monday said. According to the proposal, personal liability for “reasonable expenses” under the code revision would be up to $1,000 for an accident, arrest or incident in Pittsylvania County. The county may bill a flat fee of $350 in determining reasonable expenses, according to the proposal.

Money collected would go to the county’s general fund and recoup costs to its fire, EMS and sheriff’s office budget. The county’s EMS budget is about $1.7 million and the sheriff’s office budget is about $10 million.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Highway Safety Office, there were 573 accidents with eight deaths and 360 injuries in Pittsylvania County in 2013. Of those, 54 crashes were alcohol-related, with five deaths and 40 injuries.

In Virginia, 253 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes last year, a 10.4 percent increase from 2012, according to figures from the DMV’S Highway Safety Office.

Crane reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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