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Rick Shapiro
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West Virginia May Change DUI Court Proceedings Law

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A bill being considered by the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee would eliminate that state’s Department of Transportation’s Office of Administrative Hearings, moving all of the matters regarding driver’s license suspensions and revocations for DUIs to the state court system. 

In a hearing held in Charleston, West Virginia on March 30, parties both for and against the DUI court proceedings bill voiced their concerns. Prosecutors are opposed to the proposed law, while magistrate judges favor it.

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Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller stated that magistrates will need additional financial resources to handle the extra work.

On the other side, Julie Yeager, Kanawha County Magistrate Judge representing the West Virginia Magistrates Association, supports the bill. She noted at the hearing that she thinks it will help law enforcement and that the driver’s license suspensions and revocations could all be handled at once at the court level. One problem with the DMV administrative hearings is that there can be a delay of days or even weeks before the case is heard.

Others argue that the bill will increase the number of drunk drivers on West Virginia roads. Another magistrate judge said that the bill would not overburden the court system. He noted that it could lessen the burden because there would not be a long delay for the DMV court to finish their process and make a decision before the DUI case could be dealt with.

Our View

Our Virginia and North Carolina personal injury attorneys want to see as few drunk drivers on American roads as possible. In 2014, 9967 people died in drunk driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  This is a problem that kills thousands of people every year, and while there has been progress in recent years, there still are far too many deaths and injuries from drunk drivers. The CDC reports that 28 people are killed in drunk driving crashes every day. 

We trust that the legislature in West Virginia will make a decision on this bill that serves the interests of the public. It is important for administrative license suspensions and DUI court cases to be handled as quickly as possible, and for suspensions, revocations and other punishments to be meted out as required by state law.

Our personal injury attorneys have dealt with many DUI cases where people were seriously injured or even killed, such as this drunk driving case where the driver rear ended our client, resulting in a $112,000 settlement. Whatever it takes for there to be fewer deaths on American roads from alcohol and drugs, we are in full support.