A DUI is a serious matter, but it only warrants a felony charge in certain situations. Specifically, an individual is charged with a Virginia DUI felony on their third offense and/or they were involved in an accident that caused injury to someone else.
In this review, we take a deep dive into DUI charges in Virginia, highlighting when they are (and when they are not) felony charges, what penalties come along with a felony charge in Virginia, and how to ensure you are treated fairly throughout the judicial process.
What Makes a DUI a Felony in Virginia?
Many DUI charges in Virginia are misdemeanor offenses. However, there are some cases that result in a felony charge. Specifically, according to Virginia Law, anyone who has three DUI offenses committed within a 10-year period shall upon conviction of the third offense be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
If it is the defendant’s first or second offense, then they will be charged with a felony. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Notably, someone may be legally charged with a felony DUI if injuries occur related to the accident.
What Are The Penalties for a Class 6 Felony Conviction in Virginia?
A class 6 felony conviction carries the potential for a lengthy prison sentence and/or hefty fines. A third-time offender of DUI in Virginia may lose their driving privileges as well. The individual may be eligible for license reinstatement in three to five years depending on the details of the case. Notably, the potential legal penalties for a class 6 felony conviction in Virginia include:
- A mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail
- A mandatory minimum fine of $1,000
- A mandatory loss of driver’s license for an indefinite period of time
- Potential loss of certain professional licenses or certifications
- A required Ignition Interlock system for every vehicle you own, co-own, or operate on a regular basis
The Importance of Legal Counsel After a DUI Arrest
A licensed attorney in Virginia can determine if your DUI arrest constitutes a felony charge. This is important to ensure you do not plead guilty to a felony DUI charge for which you are not guilty. Your attorney will start by reviewing the details of your case.
They may find that the evidence does support a felony charge, in which case they can counsel you on the best steps to take. In other cases, they may discover that the facts do not warrant a felony charge. If you choose to fight the charge, then your DUI attorney in Virginia can assist you throughout the legal process.
How to Determine if You Should Challenge Your DUI Felony Charge
We recommend contacting a criminal defense attorney in Virginia anytime you are charged with driving under the influence. In some cases, the arresting officer may not have enough evidence to charge you with a misdemeanor.If you are charged with a felony and feel it should be a misdemeanor based on the criteria discussed above, then a criminal defense attorney may recommend challenging your DUI felony charge in court.
There are several potential options you (and your attorney) have available to you if you choose to challenge your DUI charge in Virginia. Notably, your options include:
- Get the traffic stop disallowed – This may be an option if there is evidence to suggest that you were stopped illegally, such as if there was no probable cause or the officer was outside of their jurisdiction.
- Get the felony charge downgraded to a misdemeanor – This may be an option if the details of the arrest do not warrant a felony charge, such as if this was your first or second offense and there was no accident involved.
- Challenge prior DUI convictions – This may be an option if a change to your prior DUI conviction would downgrade your current conviction to a misdemeanor rather than a felony charge. However, this is not always a good solution and it may carry a low success rate.
Your attorney can help you by providing you with all information you need to make a responsible and informed decision based on the evidence there is against you and other specific details of your case. However, ultimately, the decision is yours as it pertains to the legal action you take.
Are You in Need of a DUI Criminal Attorney in Virginia?
At the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, we offer legal support to help you face your DUI charge responsibly. No matter how you choose to plead, an attorney in your corner can help make the process much easier for you. Our team is committed to ensuring your fair treatment and finding the best outcome for you. You can call our office at 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online today.