From the earliest days of American history, property rights played an important role in the development of the country. Since independence, some states have put more laws in place to bolster the rights owners have over and on their own properties. Some of these provisions in Virginia have been a little more strange or unexpected than others.
According to USA Today, a Senate bill this year quietly gave Virginians the right to drive while intoxicated on their own properties. The initial laws did not differentiate between public and private property. It stated only that people could not operate a vehicle while under the influence. The new bill clarifies that state DUI laws now apply specifically to public streets and roadways.
Many advocacy groups spoke out against the bill at various stages of its development and passing. The people who developed and amended the bill also confessed to some concerns that the bill may end up exempting someone who should face legal consequences. Even so, it passed with a few changes to the language to more narrowly define the exemptions.
According to Metro News, West Virginia also passed a similar bill. Lawmakers believed that people should have the right to “act stupid” on their own private property. The law comes years after a man was allegedly charged for driving his ATV while intoxicated on his own property. In the case of West Virginia’s bill, it does not allow a drunk driver to claim immunity if they cause injury or death. It also does not protect a driver who pulls onto private property to claim immunity or intended to leave at the time they were caught.
For people with large plots of land in Virginia and West Virginia, this may allow them greater freedom in how they use it. However, it is important to note that using private property as a last-ditch or last-minute effort to escape charges may not work.