Driving under the influence is one of the more common moving violations in Virginia, and the laws surrounding the issue are numerous and changing. If you are concerned about the potential penalties of a DUI conviction, understand that the consequences of driving under the influence will depend upon a variety of factors, including your own behavior as well as whether you have had previous DUIs or are underage.
Virginia DUI Penalties & Laws In 2021
As of 2021, Virginia DUI law section 18.2-266 states that it is against the law for any individual to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is not necessary that the driver be exhibiting signs of drunken behavior, such as shifting across lanes; a chemical test revealing a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater is sufficient for a DUI charge.
Similarly, an individual whose driving shows signs of being under the influence may still be charged with a DUI, even if their blood alcohol concentration is less than .08%. Below are current Virginia DUI penalties in 2021.
Penalties For The First DUI Offense
The first DUI offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, because it is a first offense, the penalties are typically more lenient than they are for subsequent DUIs. A blood alcohol concentration of less than .15% will leave the possibility of jail time up to the court’s discretion; however, a blood alcohol level of .15% to .20% requires a minimum of five days in jail. If your BAC was higher than .20%, the mandatory minimum jail time is ten days.
You will also be required to pay a fine in the amount of $250. If you refused to comply with a blood alcohol level test when you were pulled over, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. First time offenders may receive leniency from the court and have their license restricted; however, those who did not comply with testing are not eligible for this restricted license. In most jurisdictions, the successful completion of an Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) is also required.
Second Offense Penalties
A second DUI is considered more serious than the first and is also a misdemeanor. If your second offense happened within a span of five years from the first, you will be sentenced to jail for a minimum of 20 days. If the second offense occurred between five and ten years after the first, the minimum jail sentence is 10 days. A BAC of at least .15% but less than .20% also qualifies for a minimum of 10 days in jail, but levels higher than .20% will mandate at least 20 days.
The minimum fine for a second offense doubles from the first, to $500. Second-time offenders are still eligible for a restricted license if the court finds this appropriate, but those who refused blood alcohol testing do not qualify and will have their license suspended for three years. As part of the restriction, you will also be required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle you own or which is registered to you, in whole or in part, and will be prohibited from driving any vehicle without an interlock system.
Penalties For A Third DUI
A third DUI increases from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 Felony. The mandatory minimum sentence is 90 days if the third offense occurs within 10 years; if it occurs within 5 years, the mandatory minimum sentence is 6 months.
You must pay a minimum of $1000 in fines and comply with all ignition interlock requirements. A third offense within a ten-year span will result in your license being revoked indefinitely.
Additional Considerations: CDL & Underage Drivers
CDL drivers have more stringent regulations for DUIs, including a maximum blood alcohol content of only .04%. The CDL license will be revoked for one year on a first offense (or three years if carrying hazardous materials) and indefinitely on the second offense.
Drinking and driving while under the age of 21 is punishable with a six-month license suspension, as well as a fine ranging from $500 to $2500 and up to one year of jail time. Those under the age of 21 who have a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater will face the same consequences as someone over the age of 21 would face.
Work With Experienced Fairfax DUI Lawyers To Avoid Penalties
If you have been charged with a DUI and would like to avoid or reduce the penalties related to the charge, the next step you should take is to secure legal counsel that is experienced in traffic law. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge will confidently represent you in court and advocate for your best interests; contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced DUI attorney.