VIOHS Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does the type of alcohol I drink affect my BAC?
A. No, A drink is a drink, is a drink.
Q. Do I have to agree to perform a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST)?
A. No, however, refusing will result in an arrest based on the Officer’s findings and automatic suspension of driver license.
Q. How will I know I am impaired and why should I care?
A. Alcohol steadily decreases a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. The more you drink, the greater the effect. As with BAC, the signs of impairment differ with the individual. Drivers with a BAC of .08 are approximately 4 times more likely to crash than drivers with a BAC of zero. At a BAC of .15, drivers are at least 12 times more likely to crash than drivers with a BAC of zero. The risk of crashing is even greater for young males. Further, many studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive.
Q. What about other medications or drugs?
A. Medications or drugs will not change tour BAC. However, if you drink alcohol while taking certain medications or drugs, you may feel and be more impaired, which can affect your ability to perform driving-related tasks.
Q. Does VI Office of Highway Safety (VIOHHS) issue citations for traffic violations?
A. The Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety (VIOHS) is an administrative agency responsible for developing and implementing strategies to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Although the VIOHS is not an immediate enforcement entity, it administers the federally awarded funds which can be used for enforcement. The VIOHS also administers the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). This funding is awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The purpose of MCSAP is to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and promote uniformity in compliance and enforcement. The Virgin Islands Police Department is the sub-recipient of both of these types and is responsible for enforcement of all traffic safety laws, safety inspections and hazardous materials transportation compliance.
Q. Shouldn’t wearing a seatbelt be a personal choice?
A. The government can create laws and policies designed to protect and save the lives of its citizens. Annually, car crashes are a leading cause of death for drivers and their passengers (NHTSA). Buckling up keeps occupants safe in the vehicle while preventing ejection, which is almost always deadly. Additionally, unrestrained occupants become violent projectiles in a crash posing a threat to themselves and to other vehicle occupants. Life-threatening injuries or death can result as they collide into others with the force of the crash. As crashes are not planned, the intent of the law is to help motorists and their passengers take a proactive role in safeguarding lives.
Q. Do I need to wear a seat belt if my car has airbags?
A. Air bags are designed to be used in conjunction with seat belts. Used without a seat belt, the force of a deployed air bag can cause life threatening injuries to a vehicle occupant. The seat belt is designed to keep an adult occupant safely in the seat and to slow down bodily propulsions caused by the force of a crash. Working together, the seat belt prevents an occupant from slamming into a deployed air bag at full speed. An air bag is not designed to replace the need for a seat belt; they must be used together.
Q. What is the correct car seat size for children?
The use of car seats is a proven strategy to reduce the risk of injury and death for child crash victims (NHTSA). However, even the best car seat is unsafe if it is not the correct size for your child. Although parameters for seat type are provided in VI Law, the specifications provided on the car seat or in its manual will tell a caregiver which seat is best for their child’s age, weight, and height. Caregivers should also refer to seat specifications when deciding to transition a child to another seat stage. Children should remain in a car seat or booster seat for as long as the weight and height limits of the seat permit.
As a general guide, you can also refer to the below graph provided by NHTSA Visit https://www.nhtsgov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats for more information.
Q. What are the penalties for Driving Under the Influence?
A. First Offense is $1,000 (or license in lieu of bail). DUI following a prior conviction is $1,500 (cash). Felonies (non-violent) $5,500.00.
Q. When am I impaired?
A. Because of the number of factors that affect BAC, it is very difficult to assess your own BAC or impairment. Even small amounts of alcohol affect one’s brain and the ability to drive. People often swear they are “fine” after several drinks but in fact, the failure to recognize alcohol impairment is often a symptom of impairment. While the lower stages of alcohol impairment are undetectable to others, the drinker knows vaguely when the “buzz” begins. A person will likely be too impaired to drive before looking, sounding, or maybe even feeling “drunk.”
Q. What affects my BAC?
A. How fast a person’s BAC rises varies based on a few factors:
The number of drinks. The more you drink the higher your BAC.
How fast you drink. When alcohol is consumed quickly, you will reach a higher BAC than when it is consumed over a longer period of time.
Your gender. Women generally have less water and more body fat per pound of bodyweight than men. Alcohol does not go into fat cells as easily as other cells, so more alcohol remains in the blood of women.
Your weight. The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body. This water dilutes the alcohol and lowers the BAC.
Food in your stomach. Absorption will be slowed if you have had something to eat.
Q. Is the VI Office of Highway Safety (VIOHS) responsible for the maintenance of the roads?
A. No. The Virgin Islands Department of Public Works is mandated to plan, construct and maintain the territory's public roads, highways, storm drainage systems, public transportation systems, public parking facilities, public buildings, and public cemeteries. The Office of Highway Engineering is responsible for the design and construction management of all federally funded projects, and the administration of the Federal Aid Highway Program for the territory of the United States Virgin Islands.
Q. How can I apply for a job with VI Office of Highway Safety (VIOHS)?
A. All VI Government employment opportunities and vacancy announcements are posted on the VI Department of Personnel website, www.dopusvi.org. You can also contact the VIOHS, using the ‘Contact Us’ Form on our website, and inquire of current vacancies.
Q. What are the VI laws regarding children riding in vehicles?
A. In the US Virgin Islands, all children under the age of 14 are required to ride restrained in the rear seat of a vehicle. Children under the age of 8 or 4’9” tall, are required to sit in an age, weight, and height appropriate car or booster seat. Infants up to age 1 or at least 20 lbs. are required to sit in a rear-facing seat. Forward-facing car seats are required for children ages 1 to 5 and at least 40 lbs. Children who have outgrown the forward-facing seat are required to use a booster seat until they are at least 8 years of age and 4’9” tall. However, as children develop differently, caretakers should refer to the car seat manual to determine the safest time to transition a child from one stage seat to the next based on the child’s age, weight, and height. (Ref: Title 20, Part II, chapter 41, section 466, subsection (b))
Q. As long as I am wearing a seat belt, I am safe, right?
A. Seat belts are the only device in a vehicle designed specifically to keep occupants safe. However, to do this, they must be worn consistently and correctly. Seat belts are designed to keep adult bodies safe in a crash. Children under 4’9” tall are too small to be safely protected by a seat belt and can be propelled from the belt in a crash. The shoulder belt should always pass over the occupant’s shoulder and chest. A belt passing over the neck or face can cause major injuries in a crash. The lap belt should pass over the occupant’s thighs, never the stomach. Additionally, a shoulder strap worn behind the back or under the arm can cause life-threatening internal injuries.