Blacksburg officials draft plan to address off-campus safety after DUI crash

The council could implement changes as soon as July

Putting a plan in place after a Blacksburg drunk driving crash.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – People came with issues and concerns about Virginia Tech students partying and safety, and now, the town of Blacksburg is putting a plan in place.

A drunk driver, identified as a student and football player at Virginia Tech, crashed his car into three other vehicles, flipping his own in April.

Town Attorney Larry Spencer proposed some changes to their mass gathering application to council Tuesday.

“We are going to clarify the regulations. We are going to add some parts to them. For example, if we can try not to directly regulate but address alcohol beverage consumption,” explained Spencer.

Currently, applicants have to apply for a mass gathering of 200 people. The process is not the best, town officials admit.

Spencer models their proposed changes after other college towns like Clemson, South Carolina and Harrisonburg, Virginia.

He suggests requiring property owners to be involved. Not just tenants.

A provision will be added to deny permit requests based on recent problems.

Additionally, Spencer suggests cleaning up some confusing language.

Their focus is not on arrests or fines but on establishing expectations, said Spencer.

Council is also concerned about alcohol consumption. With some confusion over their authority, they’ll work on addressing that too.

“I think we can change some of our ordinances. Fine-tune them,” said Spencer. “I think there are some improvements we can make, yes!”

A Virginia Tech spokesperson declined to comment on the crash because the university cannot comment on an individual student or off-campus matters.

However, Spencer says the town is just one piece of the puzzle. Virginia Tech will be invited to the table to address other concerns like traffic flow in and out of games, for example.

“We have a responsibility in our community to make sure these students get home safely. We’ve had too many tragedies in our community,” said local resident Beth Umberger. She was born and raised in the area.

The council could implement changes as soon as July.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.