One of the more eyebrow-raising stories in last week’s paper came on Tuesday. It was about the outcome of a common DUI charge. The defendant, Dublin town attorney and former state Del. Thomas Baker, was arrested in March in Pulaski County.
What happened in court was rather uncommon. Baker avoided a DUI conviction, which is unusual though not unheard of. It appears he did that by refusing a blood-alcohol test.
The result was a plea bargain. Baker was found guilty of reckless driving, fined $500 and ordered to complete a course with the Virginia Alcohol Safety program.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, someone who drinks too much and drives might regard Baker’s actions as a useful primer on what to do and what not to do if pulled over by a cop after drinking.
That’s because DUI convictions are no trifling matter. There’s a decent chance a first conviction will land you in jail for five or more days, depending on how drunk you are. You’re almost certain to end up with a six-month restricted license that allows you to drive only to work and back.
Besides a hefty fine and fees for a lawyer, you’ll likely have to lease a mandatory ignition interlock device for six months (about $500 plus installation), and your insurance company is going to jack up your rates for years.
When you refuse to take a blood-alcohol test, which Baker did, you deny the state evidence that could be very useful in convicting you. It might help you beat a DUI conviction, but there’s a big fat catch: Refusing the test is a separate civil infraction.
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