The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) is a statewide program with 5 main components designed to decrease the dangers of Virginia DUI and alcohol-related hazards. This program has spawned 24 local programs in counties across Virginia to help with education and prevention of Virginia DUI cases.
The Beginnings of the VASAP
In 1966 the state of Virginia established the MANN Commission to help comply with the Federal Highway Safety Act of 1966. The commission established 4 alcohol countermeasure activities which would form the basis of the VASAP in later years. Federal funding would eventually establish a state highway safety division which later became the Department of Transportation Safety.
In 1972 Fairfax County established a pilot program, one of 35 national programs that began through funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in support of the FHS Act. In 1975 the Virginia Department of Transportation Safety had the program expanded statewide. This enabled the local VASAP programs to become self-supporting through the collection of a fee authorized by the general assembly.
The 5 Components of the VASAP
There are specific objectives that the VASAP strives to attain through its 24 local programs and efforts. They are:
• Enforcement – enhancing law enforcement to reduce DUI and drug-related crashes. This includes training of officers and use of state of the art equipment to assist in detection and apprehension of DUI offenders.
• Adjudication – cooperation between the VASAP, prosecutors and the courts to ensure efficient processing of those convicted of DUI. VASAP also assists the courts to develop appropriate probation procedures, including dealing with revocation procedures.
• Case Management & Offender Intervention – ensures each Virginia DUI offender’s case is managed by a case manager who helps determine the appropriate education and/or treatment needed.
• Public Information – informs the public about the dangers of Virginia DUI and the consequences of a conviction.
• Evaluation and Certification – evaluates and certifies local alcohol safety action programs.
VASAP Impact on Virginia DUI Cases
Under the VASAP direction, a DUI offender is placed on probation by the court and in some cases given a restricted license. Part of the conviction involves reporting to the local VASAP office within 15 days or face returning to court as noncompliant. The court may then subject the Virginia DUI offender to license revocation and the imposition of previously suspended jail sentences and fines.
Virginia DUI offenders under VASAP direction may mandate that the offender participate in many of their local VASAP programs. These programs range from driver education, routine chemical testing, and other initiatives designed to reduce repeat offenses.
The VASAP programs have given DUI attorneys access to more options for their clients beyond the standard jail and fines. Participation in the VASAP programs has reduced the number of unnecessary incarcerations of DUI offenders through alternative education and prevention programs. The program continues to work on Virginia DUI prevention, as well as alternative probation methods.