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From Brian Fannin, Fannin Law PLLC
A Fredericksburg Today Partner

One thing we never acknowledge about driving under the influence is that it starts with a smile. You meet that old friend who’s known you forever for a quick drink in between shopping on the grayest, shortest days of the year. You finally unwind at your company’s Christmas party, realizing for the first time that your boss is not completely heinous and that you’re around some fun and happy people after all. The Burg’s coolest bartender makes you a cocktail using some crazy French liqueur that restores your faith in both science and God, simultaneously, and you resolve to go home and drop-kick that Elf off the Shelf that is just one more material aggravation drawing down your holiday spirit and making the kids question their belief (“if the elf is real Daddy, why does it have a tag on its butt just like my stuffed animals? Why did we see a shelf of 100 of them at Barnes and Noble?”).
The mistake, as far as a DUI is concerned (public intoxication is another law, for another column), is what you choose to do when the smile is still on your face but the task at hand involves two thousand pounds of steel, rubber, and glass that you have the power to move at incredible speed. There are the wise choices: designated drivers, calling a taxi, walking or staying at a hotel. You can even summon an Uber, which is so easy my 3-year-old managed to do it once when handed a phone to play games ($5.00 charge for unintentionally getting an Uber; which he paid back by pulling weeds the next spring).
But if you don’t make the wise choice, you should know that your ton or more of steel can rapidly get out of control. There is one area judge who has done the math and who explains vociferously to DUI defendants the sheer hopelessness of stopping in time when you are going 70, 50, or even 30 miles an hour while your mind tries to find negotiate its unclear neural impulses; even if your eyes are working fine on a clear day, getting the message to your brain, and then to your foot on the brake, is too much. And this is where the smiling ends.
Driving while intoxicated is considered a Crime of Health and Safety according to Virginia Code, and the consequences can be extremely broad depending on many factors. These factors include previous incidents, attitude when pulled over by police, and of course the extent of the damage caused by the Defendant. I encourage clients who are charged with DUI to make it a life-changing event by getting the help they need, whether that’s counselling, determining what led to the choice, or by joining the everyday heroes fighting addiction at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings across our area. And in representing them, I encourage using every legal means possible to preserve their freedom, their property and their dignity.

Brian Fannin

Fannin Law PLLC is available for consultations by calling 540.371.5300 or emailing


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