As we have noted on our blog in the past, the Commonwealth of Virginia is known for having some of the strictest DWI and DUI laws in the United States. Given this reality, it is crucial to be aware of the DUI penalties in Virginia so that if you ever find yourself facing DUI charges, you are aware of your rights under the law.
In Virginia, a person is legally considered operating under the influence of alcohol if that person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher. Even if a driver’s BAC is lower than .08, though, if an officer decides the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired, it is possible that he or she could face the same penalties regardless. DUI penalties apply whether a driver is operating a car, boat, or watercraft.
First v. Subsequent Offenses
In Virginia, the punishment for a first DUI offense differs from that of a subsequent DUI offense. If a driver is found guilty of driving under the influence and it is his or her first time with a DUI conviction, the punishment involves a minimum $250 fine as well as driver’s license revocation for one year.
For a second offense, a driver will be punished with a minimum $500 fine, driver’s license revocation for three years, and a possible jail term up to one year. If, however, a driver is convicted for a second DUI offense within ten years of the prior offense, he or she can face a minimum ten-day jail term on top of the previous penalties mentioned. The more DUIs a person faces within this ten-year period, the heavier the consequences. If, for example, a driver receives three DUI convictions within a ten-year period, there will be a minimum 90-day jail term and permanent forfeiture of the driver’s vehicle. If the driver receives four DUIs in ten years, the driver must submit to a minimum one-year jail term.
If a driver is convicted of a DUI with aggravating factors, that driver’s penalty will likely end up being more severe. For example, a person with a BAC of .15 or above will be punished with a mandatory five-day jail sentence, regardless of whether or not it is the person’s first offense. Another common aggravating factor is the infliction of injuries through a DUI. If a driver has caused an accident while driving under the influence, and that accident subsequently caused injuries, the driver will likely be sentenced to more time in prison than he or she would be otherwise.
While under the influence of alcohol, it is often impossible to predict when an aggravating factor will emerge. It is also impossible to predict police officers’ patrolling of a given area, especially given Virginia’s particularly strict enforcement laws and practices. Given these harsh realities, the safest thing you can do when you have consumed alcohol is to stay home, arrange for a designated driver, or call an Uber or a taxi. Arranging ahead of time for an alternate form of transportation is always the best way to ensure that you do not get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence.
Have You Been Charged with a DUI in Virginia?
At Robinson Law, we are intimately familiar with the laws and penalties around DUIs in Virginia. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, it’s time to lawyer up – we are here to support you and to make sure you have the best defense strategy possible. For a free consultation, give our office a call at (703) 844-3746.