Crackdown On Underage Drinking

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has partnered with the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax to start an initiative to prevent parents from providing teens with alcohol. The partnership focused on the month of May with particular concern because of proms and graduations. The board and the UPC have started a program called “Parents who Host Lose the Most.” Both groups are working to teach people that providing alcohol to teens can have significant legal and medical consequences.

Possession of alcohol by a minor in Fairfax or anywhere in Virginia is a violation of statute 4.1-305. Violations of this law are frequently punished by requiring community service and a loss of license. It surprises many people that even if no vehicles or driving are involved simply holding a beer when you are underage can cost a teen the ability to drive for up to 6 months. Additionally any parents found to have supplied alcohol to a minor can be punished significantly. Even the parents can possibly lose their driver’s licenses for an extended period of time.

Additionally, common sense indicates that youngsters who engage in alcohol use are likely to have legal problems beyond simple possession charges. If a teen has little experience with alcohol they are certainly more likely to get arrested for fighting, more likely to make bad decisions about drug use, and above all are far more likely to get arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Virginia’s DWI law is different for individuals under the legal drinking age. 18.2-266.1 regulates this behavior. That statute makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02 or above. This is an extremely low standard. In fact, in most people that BAC can likely be accomplished by consuming only one beer. A violation of 18.2-266.1 is frequently referred to as a “baby DWI”. While it is different than a regular DWI the consequences are often very similar including a possible 12 month suspension of a teen’s right to drive in Virginia.

While many parents may believe hosting an event with alcohol is the best way to celebrate in Fairfax. The simple fact is the potential of being arrested for underage possession of alcohol, assault, and/or driving while intoxicated simply makes it a bad idea.

Facebook: A New Legal Specialty

There are very few people out there that haven’t heard of Facebook. This social media tool always seems to be in the news and with good reason…over 9 million users and growing.

Facebook is set for their official IPO this week. It will go down as one of the biggest IPO ever. Forbes released an article on why it matters.

With billions on the table, what are the business opportunities for judges, politicians, even a Fairfax criminal lawyer? For many in the legal profession, we watch with interest as this company goes public.

The media shares the negative stories of Facebook — cyber-bullying, employees losing jobs, or adults in trouble posting things they shouldn’t. How the law interprets this sharing of information continues to evolve with new cases in court regularly.

You can find a Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyer, A Virginia DUI Attorney, or any other legal representation on Facebook then publicly ‘Like’ them. Is this a statement on your personal behavior and/or does it hold any weight if you ever had to go to court?

As reported in Virginia’s Lawyer Weekly this May, the Virginia courts ruled that ‘Likes’ on Facebook were NOT protected. Plaintiffs working for the Sheriff’s office claimed that because they ‘Liked’ his opponent on Facebook, it actually got them fired. They claimed unfair dismissal due to freedom of speech, the court ruled that ‘Liking’ was not a protected freedom and awarded the case to newly re-elected Sheriff B.J. Roberts.

“Merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” said Newport News U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. “In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record. … Facebook posts can be considered matters of public concern,” but not in this case,” Jackson said inBland v. Roberts(VLW 012-3-171).

Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, would argue that the new mode of communication and the ripple-down effect of changing laws are part of the social evolution. He believes if we’re willing to post and share, our information belongs to the world.

There’s no doubt it’s an interesting topic to watch. Who knows, maybe we’ll need to update our Virginia DWI orReckless Driving FAQs page?!

Do you have a Facebook story or legal question? As experienced Fairfax criminal lawyers, our team is happy to help. Our legal consultations are always free, we look forward to hearing from you.

Fairfax City Dwi Dismissed

On May 10, 2012 a judge in Fairfax City dismissed a DWI charge against former head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Randy Babbitt. The issue in the case involved the reason the officer initially stopped Mr. Babbitt’s vehicle. The officer had said Mr. Babbitt was stopped after driving on the wrong side of the road. However, video from the scene indicated it appeared to be a normal left turn. Because the judge saw no valid reason for the initial stop the case was dismissed.

In any Fairfax DWI or Fairfax City DWI, the government is required to prove the officer made a valid stop of the vehicle initially. A good Fairfax DWI lawyer will look into why the officer first stopped the vehicle. An officer is required to have “reasonable, articulable suspicion” before a DWI stop can be initiated. In cases where the officer can’t provide such evidence and the judge will suppress any evidence subsequently discovered and likely dismiss the DWI.