You are probably terrified and overwhelmed if you are facing a DUI (driving under the influence) charge in Virginia. As a first-time offender, not knowing what to anticipate might make the situation much more frightening. Knowing your legal choices and the applicable Virginia laws will help relieve some of your anxiety about the unknown. In Virginia, a first DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction is a misdemeanor. If the motorist has not been convicted of a DWI in the previous ten years, it is deemed a first offense. First-time offenders may spend up to a year in prison, as well as fines, probation, and license revocation. In this brief article, we will be assessing what it means to be faced with a first-time DUI offense so that you can be prepared with what to expect throughout the process.
Understanding A Virginia First-Time DUI
In Virginia, what constitutes a DUI? A DUI is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater while driving. Even if you have a lower blood alcohol content (BAC), your ability to drive a car or boat is still hindered. The legal impairment level for those under the age of 21 is 0.02 percent BAC.
To verify if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an officer will pull you over and administer field sobriety tests to establish your level of intoxication. If the officer concludes you are under the influence, the prosecutor just needs to show your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at least 0.08 percent to arrest you.
The prosecutor must establish that your ability to operate your vehicle was substantially affected by alcohol or drugs in the absence of field sobriety tests and a chemical test result of 0.08 percent BAC.
What Are the Consequences Of Your First DUI Arrest?
If this is your first DUI conviction within the last ten years, it is considered a misdemeanor in Virginia. This entails a one-year license suspension and a fine of $250 to $2,500. This conviction will remain on your criminal record as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. An offender who has a juvenile passenger faces an extra fine of $500 to $1,000. A first DWI carries a slew of hidden costs, including attorney fees and higher insurance rates.
If you have a BAC of 0.15 percent or above, you may be fined and must serve a minimum of five days in jail before being eligible for probation. If your BAC is 0.20 percent or more, you must spend at least 10 days in jail before being released on probation.
The consequences for a first-time DWI are determined by law. Minor passengers and a high blood alcohol percentage (BAC) might exacerbate the severity of these penalties.
A first-time DWI potentially also carries a penalty sentence of one year in prison. There is no mandatory minimum sentence for most offenders. Offenders must spend at least five days before becoming eligible for probation. Before becoming eligible for probation must end up serving ten days in jail. The judge will add five days to the offender’s jail term for violations involving passengers under the age of 18.
Anyone convicted of a first DWI in Virginia is required to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). The person will initially be tested for drugs and alcohol. The VASAP may include therapy or 20 hours of drug and alcohol classes, depending on the results of the evaluation.
Other possible sanctions can include community service and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Consequences Of Driving While Intoxicated
A DWI can result in a variety of driver’s license sanctions, starting with a seven-day license suspension if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above .08. In addition to the 7-day suspension, a DWI conviction carries a one-year license suspension. Drivers who break the state’s implied consent regulations will have their licenses suspended for an additional period of time.
A restricted driver’s license is instantly available to drivers who have enrolled in or completed the VASAP, but it must be requested from the court. During the suspension term, this license allows you to travel to and from a job, school, and medical appointments. And, as previously stated, the holder of a restricted license must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) in at least one of the vehicles they drive. The motorist must keep the IID for at least six months without violating any restrictions.
Needing Further Assistance?
If you or someone you love is facing issues pertaining to a first DUI offense in the state of Virginia, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of professionals at the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge. We are happy to answer and address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the legal process of handling a DUI and will walk you through in a seamless manner.