Tougher Penalties Enacted for DUI
Warner Signs 25 Bills From Bipartisan Alliance
Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) signed into law 25 bills aimed at cracking down on drunk and drugged drivers.
The legislation, which was sponsored by a bipartisan coalition in the House of Delegates and the Senate, is aimed primarily at imposing stiffer penalties on repeat offenders.
One new law will eliminate bail for repeat offenders who have three prior convictions within the past five years. Another will require that people convicted of a second drunken-driving offense in five years serve 20 days in jail. A third will provide "zero tolerance" for drunk drivers who operate a vehicle in violation of a restricted license. Other new laws are aimed at first-time drunk drivers and will increase fines.
The new laws will go into effect July 1.
Road Projects Fall to Budget Ax
$64 Million Beltway-HOV Lane Link Killed
Virginia transportation officials plan to cut a critical carpool connection through the Springfield interchange from the state's road-building plan while also delaying several other projects because there is no money to fund them.
A tentative list of changes and delays to the state's six-year program includes eliminating a $64 million link between the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway, where officials are considering adding high-occupancy toll lanes. The list also calls for delaying for two years construction of a fourth lane on southbound I-95 between Newington and Occoquan, putting off completion until at least 2012.
The revised plan would also delay smaller projects, such as widening West Broad Street in Falls Church by a year and Mill Road in Alexandria by four years.
Muhammad to Be Tried in Fairfax
Convicted Sniper Faces 2nd Death-Penalty Case
Fairfax County's top prosecutor said he has decided to go forward with a second death-penalty trial for John Allen Muhammad.
Muhammad, 43, will be tried in the fatal shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin outside a Fairfax Home Depot store. Defense attorneys Peter D. Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro have been appointed to represent Muhammad. Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher will preside over the trial.
Last year, Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to death in the slaying of Dean H. Meyers at a Prince William County gas station, one of 13 shootings -- 10 of them fatal -- in the Washington area during a three-week period in October 2002. Co-conspirator Lee Boyd Malvo, 19, was convicted last year of capital murder in Franklin's slaying and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Strike Force Joins Fight to Stop Gangs
Local Authorities Get Help From State Police
Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) announced the creation of a strike force of 12 state police officers to work with local authorities in gang-trouble areas and also proposed adding three prosecutors in Northern Virginia to focus on gang-related cases.
Warner also said state prison officials will identify and track imprisoned gang members, sharing intelligence with police.
The announcement comes after two recent incidents of violence. A Fairfax County teenager's hands were nearly severed in a gang-related machete attack. Days later, a Herndon youth was fatally shot by an assailant believed to be a gang member.
Fairfax School Superintendent Chosen
Frederick County Educator to Make $237,000
Frederick County Superintendent Jack D. Dale was hired to run Fairfax County's public schools at an annual salary of $237,000.
The school board voted unanimously to award a four-year contract to Dale, 55. He becomes the highest-paid public official in Fairfax and one of the Washington area's highest-paid superintendents. He replaces Daniel A. Domenech, who retired in March to work for a New York textbook publisher.