If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI in Virginia, you may be wondering what could be in store for you. Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated can carry stiff penalties, but for a first offense, they are not as severe as they may be for those who have already faced this charge before. To understand your options and help you plan, you must first know what the potential range of punishments is for a first offense DUI or DWI in Virginia.
What Is A DUI In Virginia?
A DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, most commonly refers to alcohol, but it can also refer to any instance of driving in a manner that is unsafe due to your circumstances (the “influence” could be a drug, lack of sleep and so on).
Many people assume that you must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08 in order to be charged with a DUI; however, this is not true. A DUI encompasses any time that an individual is driving while under the influence, even if their BAC is lower than this threshold.
If your BAC is above .08, your charge will change to a DWI, or driving while intoxicated. The officer must make a judgment on whether your driving was impaired, regardless of whether your blood alcohol level hits the .08 threshold.
Minimum Possible Penalties
If you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, there are a range of penalties that you can expect. In general, first offenses are the most lenient, and you may not even be required to pay a fine.
However, if your BAC was above .15 or a child under the age of 18 was accompanying you at the time of the offense, you will be required to serve a mandatory minimum of five 5 days in jail and pay a fine of between $500 and $1000.
Your driver’s license may be suspended for 12 months, although some individuals may secure a restricted driver’s license. In this case, you will be required to pay for and use an ignition interlock device, which will check your blood alcohol level before you are allowed to turn on the vehicle. You will also be required to attend ASAP (Alcohol Safety Action Program) classes, which will be paid for by you and not the state.
Maximum Possible Consequences For A First Offense
While many individuals receive the minimum possible penalties for a first offense DUI, this is not always the case. At maximum, a first offense can result in up to 1 year in jail, with some blood alcohol levels mandating a certain range of jail time.
Your driver’s license may be suspended indefinitely without a restricted license granted, though some individuals are still able to secure a restricted license as long as they use an ignition interlock device.
In this scenario, you will also be required to complete the Alcohol Safety Action Program classes at your expense, as before. However, you will also receive 6 points on your Virginia driver’s license and will be required to pay a fine that can range between $250 and $2500.
What Are Your Options?
Because a DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, you can expect some combination of potential jail time, fines, education classes and license suspension as part of the punishment for driving under the influence.
A skilled attorney can help you to reduce these penalties as much as possible and keep you from paying unnecessary fines. Virginia treats DUIs very seriously; while many states consider first offenses to be traffic violations, Virginia codifies a DUI incident as a criminal act, and the potential punishments are correspondingly severe.
You can generally expect a better outcome in your case by working with a legal professional experienced in DUI cases than attempting to fight the charge or reduce your penalties on your own.
Work With The Virginia DUI Attorneys To Reduce Your Penalties
Whether you have been charged with a DUI or a DWI in Virginia, seeking the assistance of a legal professional experienced with such cases can help you to achieve the minimum penalties or even have your case dropped entirely if the evidence permits.
The skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to speak with you about your case and develop a strategy to reduce your penalties as much as possible. Reach out to schedule a consultation to speak with an attorney about your DUI case.