Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the most common encounters that the public has with police officers on the roadway. However, not all DWIs are created equal, and depending upon your history and the circumstances involved, you could be facing more severe penalties than you have in the past. You may have heard the term “third offense” in reference to DWIs in Virginia, and it is important that you understand what this term refers to and how it may impact you.
What Does The Third “Offense” Mean?
A third “offense” DWI is not, as many people assume, in reference to the level of severity of the situation, such as a particularly high blood alcohol level. Instead, this category of a DWI simply refers to the third offense; if you have been convicted of two prior counts of driving while under the influence or driving while intoxicated within the last 10 years, then your next DWI will be the third offense. It does carry more severe penalties than its predecessors, as it shows a repeating pattern of behavior.
A 3rd offense DWI is a class 6 felony and can have severe lasting consequences on your criminal record. In addition, you can expect further consequences that will impact your life and ability to carry on with your normal daily routine. A skilled attorney may be able to help you reduce your penalties or even have your case dismissed, which is why it is worth discussing your options with a legal professional to determine if this may be a possibility.
Potential Criminal Penalties For A 3rd offense DWI
A felony typically carries penalties that are more stringent than those of a misdemeanor, and a 3rd offense DWI is no exception. As a felony, it carries a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail, with the sentence typically ranging from 1 to 5 years. The mandatory minimum time increases to six months if all three of the individual’s DWI convictions have occurred within the last 5 years instead of 10. Elements likely to increase the severity of any penalties assigned from the felony include having a minor passenger in the vehicle at the time of the DWI or having a high blood alcohol content.
In addition to time in jail, offenders can expect a fine; most commonly, this ranges from $1000 to $2500.
However, carrying a minor passenger can increase this by up to an additional $1000. Your vehicle may also be forfeited at the judge’s discretion, and you will be required to successfully complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).
Additional Lifestyle Penalties
One of the most detrimental penalties associated with a 3rd offense DWI is that your driver’s license will immediately be revoked. This means it is taken from you, and it cannot be reinstated. You will not be eligible for any type of restricted or temporary license for a minimum of 3 years after the conviction, which means that there is no way for you to legally operate a vehicle during this time. This can have significant consequences on your life, from limiting or even removing your ability to go to work, to interfering with childcare and other responsibilities. After the 3 year minimum driver’s license suspension time, you may be able to qualify for a restricted license, but it will only permit you to travel to and from your place of work. It takes a minimum of 5 years to be able to apply for a standard driver’s license again. Even if you do succeed in obtaining this standard license, you will still be required to abide by additional rules that were not in place before, such as complying with the use of an ignition interlock device for a minimum of 6 months. This device tests your blood alcohol level before allowing you to turn on your vehicle. You must make a compelling case for good cause in order to regain the ability to have a license; it is not guaranteed as a right once you reach the 5 year mark.
Work With An Attorney To Reduce Penalties For A 3rd Offense DWI
If you are facing a potential conviction on your 3rd offense DWI within the last 10 years, you could suffer significant consequences if you are found guilty. It is important that you reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible after the incident; in some instances, the material facts of the case allow your charges to be reduced or even dismissed entirely. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to help you explore your options. Reach out to schedule a consultation.