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 From an emotional standpoint, a case where someone is accused driving under the influence and killing another person is one of the toughest.  With the victim, you usually have someone who did not deserve to die.  They are often young, in the prime of their lives.  They are usually also close to the driver.  The victim is often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling of the accused.  Unfortunately, that person is not available to express forgiveness to the driver.
As for the driver, you often have a person who has never been in trouble in his life.  He may be college educated, have a great job, and a loving family.  But for this horrible incident he would have continued to be an upstanding citizen.
Recently, a San Jose woman pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a 79 year old grandmother.  She is waiting to be sentenced by a Santa Clara County judge.  Her maximum possible sentence is 12 years in the state prison.  In fact, the judge is precluded from granting this woman probation unless he finds “unusual circumstances” where the interests of justice require it.  According to statements, the family of the victim has forgiven the defendant, and believes that the victim would forgive her as well.  Unfortunately, California DUI sentencing law provides somewhat less opportunity for the Court to forgive her. 

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that, regardless of the outcome, nobody wins in these cases.  Regardless of what side you are on there is nothing but tragedy in these cases.  An innocent victim loses her life, and a contrite survivor is cast into the hell of the California prison system.  

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Virginia issues harsh punishments on drivers convicted of DUI.  A first time DUI offense in Virginia could result in a court fine up to $2,500 and a license revocation of one year.  Plus, you will be on probation for one year.  A second DUI offense in Virginia could result in a license suspension for three years and another substantial court fine.  However, the punishment becomes even worse in some circumstances when there is a sentence enhancement.

A sentence enhancement increases the amount of punishment for a DUI conviction.  There are certain factors that lead to sentence enhancements including:

• A child was in the vehicle at the time of suspected DUI
• There was a past offense within 5 to 10 years
• Blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than .15 percent, almost twice the legal limit
• Property was damaged
• Someone was injured
• The driver was under the age of 21
• A chemical test was refused

Any of these situations could result in a harsher punishment.  Virginia courts hear so many cases each year that the prosecution often puts pressure on the defendants to quickly admit to guilt.  If you have been accused of drunk driving in Virginia, you do not have to promptly admit to being guilty, as there are many DUI defenses available.  You should contact an experienced Virginia DUI attorney immediately following a DUI arrest for expert legal advice.


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