Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are prosecuted very seriously in Virginia due to the amount of collisions and casualties that they bring. The strict enforcement of DUI and DWI include punitive charges imposed by courts.
For this reason, it is crucial for anyone facing these charges to reach out to an experienced Fairfax DUI attorney to ensure fair treatment and mitigate damage as much as possible.
DWI & DUI Laws In Virginia
It is illegal to operate an automobile or heavy machinery after drinking alcohol. The legal standard for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for drivers under 21 is 0.02%; for drivers over 21, this is 0.08%. Drivers with a BAC over 0.15% or who are driving with children in the vehicle while intoxicated face even steeper penalties.
A common misconception is that as long as the driver is under these legal limits, they are immune to DUI or DWI charges. This is not true; these limits are what are referred to as “Per Se” BAC limits. A police officer may also assess intoxication based on the grounds of “visible impairment.” Drivers can be found to be visibly impaired due to prescription or nonprescription drugs, in addition to cases in which a driver stayed under the 0.08% BAC limit. Officers may also bring a DUI or DWI charge in cases where a driver tested at just under the “Per Se” BAC limit and believes that the driver was previously above the limit while driving.
Penalties For A DUI Or DWI In Virginia
After being charged for DUI or DWI, law enforcement will arrest a driver they believe to be impaired. If convicted on this charge, the defendant will have a criminal charge on their record and face severe penalties. These may include court-ordered restitution, ignition interlock devices, license suspension or revocation, mandatory enrollment in the Alcohol Safety Action Program, steep punitive fines, and jail time of up to one year on the first offense.
|Conviction Of 1st DUI Offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor)|
|Driver’s License Restriction (Eligible Unless BAC Test Refused)||1 Year|
|Driver’s License Suspension (If BAC Test Refused)||1 Year|
|BAC 0.15% – 0.20% (at time of arrest)||5 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|BAC 0.20% + (at time of arrest)||10 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP)||Completion Required|
Penalties For Repeat Offenses
Penalties for repeat DUI or DWI offenses are even more severe. Second offenses within five years require a penalty of at least $500 and a jail sentence from one month to a whole year.
|Conviction Of 2nd DUI Offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor)|
|Driver’s License Restriction (Eligible Unless BAC Test Refused)||3 Years|
|Driver’s License Suspension (If BAC Test Refused)||3 Years|
|2nd Offense 5-10 Years Of 1st DUI Offense||10 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|2nd Offense >5 Years Of 1st DUI Offense||20 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|BAC 0.15% – 0.20% (at time of arrest)||10 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|BAC 0.20% + (at time of arrest)||20 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|Ignition Interlock Installation (With Restricted License)||Required|
A third offense is considered a felony and comes with longer jail sentences and higher fines upon conviction. Additionally, the court may order that a defendant’s vehicles are seized if convicted, and the felony charges will permanently reflect on his or her driving record.
|Conviction Of 3rd DUI Offense (Class 6 Felony)|
|Driver’s License Revocation (If 3rd Offense Within 10 Years)||Indefinitely|
|3rd Offense Within 10 Years||90 Day Jail Sentence Minimum|
|3rd Offense Within 5 Years||6 Month Jail Sentence Minimum|
Enlist The Legal Help Of A Virginia DUI Attorney
DUI and DWI charges are very serious and come with steep penalties. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI/DWI charge, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel immediately from an experienced Virginia DUI attorney. Call the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge to set up a consultation to review legal defense strategies.