Operating a motor vehicle requires compliance with an extensive variety of laws which govern the process. Driving while being impacted by sleepiness, alcohol, controlled substances or another factor that inhibits your behavior or motor controls is not permitted.
What a state calls this behavior may slightly different depending upon where you are located; you may encounter terms such as driving while intoxicated, operating while under the influence or others. However, in Virginia, you are likely to see the term DWI if you have been charged with operating your vehicle in an unsafe way.
What Is A DWI?
A DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. Most commonly, this intoxication results from alcohol, and the officer who pulls you over will be sure to test the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here, a few misconceptions exist, most frequent among them that you are safe from a DWI if your blood alcohol content does not exceed the legal limit.
However, while Virginia’s legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08%, it is still possible to be pulled over and charged with a DWI in circumstances when your BAC is .04% or even .02%. Additionally, you do not need to be visibly drunk or impaired in order to receive a charge of driving while intoxicated.
What Makes A DWI Aggravated?
A DWI becomes aggravated if your blood alcohol content exceeds .15%. This is nearly double the legal limit, which is why more severe penalties are in place for drivers who have or exceed this level of alcohol in their system. Virginia’s laws surrounding DWI charges include the concept of implied consent, which means that it is mandatory that you submit to field sobriety tests.
If you elect to refuse to participate in a chemical test or field test regarding your ability to operate a motor vehicle, you could face serious consequences. Choosing not to submit to a field sobriety test does not free you from a potential DWI charge; instead, it makes it more difficult for your legal representation to argue a favorable case to reduce your penalties.
Potential Consequences Of An Aggravated DWI
An aggravated DWI carries potentially harsh penalties, regardless of whether or not this is your first DWI charge. In addition to a minimum $500 fine, a BAC of .15 to .20 is a mandatory minimum of 5 days in jail; this number could be much higher depending upon the specifics of your case and any previous moving violations or DWIs on your record.
It is possible that your vehicle will be confiscated, and you will typically be required to use an ignition interlock device if you are permitted to keep any driving privileges. This piece of equipment is installed inside your car near the steering wheel and calculates your current blood alcohol level as you blow a steady breath into it. The vehicle will be unable to start until you have passed the ignition interlock device test.
You can also expect a significant increase in your auto insurance as a result of an aggravated DWI; rates could increase by a range of $1,500 to $6,000, on average. Some drivers may lose access to their current insurance altogether if their insurer elects not to extend a renewal opportunity due to the high risk associated with the driver being insured.
In this case, the driver will be required to carry a different type of insurance that is specifically oriented to those who have been in auto accidents, convicted of a DWI or other vehicular charges. These policies tend to be very expensive, and it may take several years to return to your previous insurance rates.
One of, or the combination of any of these penalties may also result in a loss of employment. An experienced attorney may be able to help you avoid additional jail time or other penalties; however, it is important to reach out as soon as possible after the incident for your legal team to prepare your case.
Work With A Professional Defense Attorney To Reduce Your Penalties
If you have been charged with an aggravated DWI and have concerns about the potential penalties, be sure to work with a legal professional who can advocate on your behalf to reduce the consequences as much as possible.
The attorneys with The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to assist you in handling your charge of aggravated DWI for the most favorable outcome possible. Reach out to schedule a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident.