DUI/DWI Laws in Virginia – Defend Against DUI/DWI Charges
It is important to understand that anyone who is charged with a DUI/DWI offense, despite what their BAC might have registered, still has strong, legitimate defenses to the charge. Please contact Petrovich & Walsh to discuss such DUI/DWI defense strategies, and how you can defend against DUI charges.
Drinking and driving in Virginia, and driving under the influence of alcohol are treated very seriously. DUI/DWI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A first time offense is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to $2500 in fines.
Virginia DUI/DWI laws also mandate entry into ASAP (Alcohol Safety Action Program) and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Under Virginia law, you are driving or operating under the influence when operating a motor vehicle,
boat or water craft, if one or more of the following is true:
- You have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or above.
- You are “under the influence of alcohol”.
- You are “under the influence” of any drug or intoxicant or have such substances in your blood above certain levels.
- You are “under the influence” of a combination of alcohol and drugs.
If you register a 0.08 or higher BAC, your driver’s license will be suspended for seven days immediately after your arrest before being returned to you. This suspension is a DMV suspension and is separate from the one year license suspension if you are convicted.
POTENTIAL MANDATORY JAIL:
Under current Virginia law even first time offenders convicted of DUI/DWI with a BAC between .15 and .20 percent will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five days in jail. Those with a .21 percent or higher BAC will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of ten days in jail.
Any person convicted of a second DUI/DWI offense committed within less than five years after a prior DUI/DWI conviction faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 to 40 days in jail, depending on the BAC level.
Any person convicted of a second offense within 10 years after a prior conviction faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 to 30 days in jail, depending on the BAC level.
A third DUI/DWI offense within a 10-year period is a felony charge in Virginia.
If you are convicted of a DUI first offense, you may be eligible for a restricted license. The defendant must “move” the court for the restricted license, but the court is under no obligation to grant one. If the judge allows a restricted license, the limitations are often:
- Driving to and from ASAP (Alcohol Safety Action Program)
- Driving to and from work
- Driving during work hours with proper agendas
- Driving to and from school
- Driving to and from medical treatment
Some judges in Virginia do not allow the issuance of a restricted license until 30 days after the conviction date.
IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION:
As of July 1, 2012, all people convicted of any DUI/DWI offense will be required to install an ignition interlock breath machine in their vehicles for a period of at least six months.
If you operate a motor vehicle on Virginia’s public roads, you automatically agree to take a chemical test if an officer has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In such a case, you are required to take the test. If you refuse, your license will be immediately suspended for seven days and it may be suspended for one year, based on a separate charge of refusal, regardless if you are convicted of driving under the influence. If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, the suspension period for refusing the test will be added to the DUI/DWI suspension period.
UNDER AGE 21:
If you are under age 21 and you drive with a BAC of at least 0.02 percent, but less than 0.08 percent, you can be fined up to $500 and have your driver’s license suspended for one year.
If your BAC is over .08, your penalties will be the same as a driver over 21.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE OPERATORS:
You will receive a one-year disqualification for driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or higher. The disqualification becomes three years if you were transporting hazardous materials at the time.
You will also receive a one-year disqualification if you refuse a blood or breath test.
ALCOHOL SAFETY ACTION PROGRAM:
This program focuses on substance abuse and driving, substance abuse and health and self-evaluation of potential for substance abuse. All participants in this program will be tested for alcohol/drugs. If tested positive for either, the participant will immediately be re-classified for treatment.
You will probably be placed on probation by the court and given a restricted license and ordered to report to the local ASAP office within 15 days. Offenders who fail to meet the requirements of ASAP probation will be returned to court as non-compliant and subject to revocation action by the court, that may impose any suspended fine and/or suspended jail time.
The Northern Virginia Law Firm Petrovich & Walsh PLC provide quality and experienced representation in all drinking and driving matters in Virginia to include: Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Prince William County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, Loudoun County in Virginia.