Operating a motor vehicle is an important responsibility—so much so that the state of Virginia maintains a large number of regulations and laws about how to properly drive in a manner that keeps everyone safe. Even if an individual believes that they are capable of operating a vehicle safely, their driving abilities may be sufficient evidence to bring charges against them for driving while impaired.
Alcohol need not be specifically involved. If you have received a DWI charge, you may be wondering how long you can expect it to remain on your record and what the short- and long-term impacts may be.
DUI, DWI and What They Mean
When discussing impaired driving, you may notice that a wide variety of terms can be used. The most common is DUI, which stands for Driving Under the Influence. Similarly, the charge DWI means Driving While Intoxicated or even Driving While Impaired. These charges can result from not only alcohol but also drugs, and a DWI may even extend into general inhibited driving, such as driving unsafely due to dozing off behind the wheel.
The classification of “impaired driving” is subjective, and an officer may make an on-site decision about your ability to drive based on the evidence at the time. You need not have a certain blood alcohol level to qualify for a DUI or DWI.
The Impact of a DWI on Your Record
In Virginia, having a DWI on your driving record can have significant long-term impacts on your life. One of the most significant results of a DWI being added to your record is how your car insurance company will respond. Your coverage provisions and benefits may be limited as a result, and your premiums are likely to increase, sometimes exponentially.
In addition, auto insurers are not required to continue offering a policy to you, which means that once the DWI appears on your record you may find your auto insurance canceled entirely, or you may be unable to renew your policy when the time comes.
If this occurs, you can still seek auto insurance from companies specifically geared toward high-risk drivers. However, the premiums you can expect to pay will also be higher than what you may be used to. You must elect to carry auto insurance; in fact, if you have been convicted of a DWI, you must file a Financial Responsibility Certificate known as FR-44, which serves as a guarantee to the DMV that you are carrying auto insurance.
Eventually, the DWI will stop impacting your insurance. Generally, in Virginia, this occurs after 3 years of paying the premiums on whatever auto insurance you are able to secure after a DWI. If you acquire a restricted license during this time, you will be required to continue to pay in accordance with the FR-44 for an additional year. After this time, the DWI may be removed from your insurance record.
How Long a DWI Stays on Your Driving Record
As for your driving record, a DWI can have a large impact over the long term. If you are convicted of a traffic crime, your driver’s license will receive a number of demerit points; DUIs result in 6 demerit points, staying on your record for 2 years.
However, even after the initial demerit points expire, the actual DUI/DWI conviction is still documented in your driving history for 11 years. This 11-year span, often called the “look back period,” serves to provide additional information should the individual be involved in another traffic crime.
Those who are charged with another traffic violation, especially another DUI or DWI, during the look back period will face harsher penalties than first-time offenders and may even have their license permanently suspended.
After the look back period has expired, another DUI or DWI will be treated as a first offense because the previous incident has fallen off of that individual’s record. This makes it critical to avoid further traffic infractions during the 11 year look back period to avoid more stringent consequences.
Work with a Skilled Defense Attorney to Reduce Your Penalties
Whether you are facing a DWI charge that you believe is not correct, or would like to explore your options for reducing the penalties in your DWI or DUI case, be sure to rely on legal professionals who are experienced with DWI/DUI representation. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge will gladly discuss with you, a strategy to avoid severe penalties when possible. Reach out to schedule a consultation with an attorney today.