How Does Virginia Define & Punish DUI/DWI?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are strict laws against drunk driving. Legally referred to as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI), this criminal offense is not limited to alcohol consumption. It is possible for DUI/DWI charges to stem from the consumption of drugs, whether legal or illegal. It is also possible for DUI/DWI charges to result from the combined influence or impairment of alcohol and drugs.
What is the Virginia Definition of DUI/DWI?
The state law definition of DUI/DWI appears at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266. Under this section, it is unlawful for any person to drive or operate a vehicle with at least:
- 08 in blood-alcohol concentration (BAC);
- 1 milligram blood concentration of methamphetamine;
- 1 milligram blood concentration of MDMA;
- 02 milligram blood concentration of cocaine; or
- 01 milligram blood concentration of PCP.
The definition of impairment also appears at Section 18.2-266. Under this section, a driver is considered impaired as soon as they lose the ability to operate their vehicle in a safe and legal fashion. Furthermore, as mentioned above, impairment can occur as a result of the influence of:
- One drug or several drugs, whether legal or illegal;
- A combination of alcohol and drugs.
How Does Virginia Punish DUI/DWI?
The state law punishment for DUI/DWI appears at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270. From a general standpoint, the penalties for DUI/DWI become more severe for repeat offenders or if the crime occurred during the transportation of a minor. This is also true for DUI/DWI offenders who register a BAC above 0.15, which is more than twice the legal limit.
On the first offense, DUI/DWI is ordinarily charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment includes a mandatory minimum of $250 in criminal fines and, in specific circumstances, at least five to 10 days in jail.
On the second offense, DUI/DWI is typically charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment includes a mandatory minimum of $500 in criminal fines and at least 10 to 20 days in jail.
On the third offense, DUI/DWI is usually charged as a Class 6 felony. The punishment includes a mandatory minimum of $1,000 in criminal fines and at least half a year in prison.
On the fourth or subsequent offense, DUI/DWI is generally charged as a Class 6 felony. The punishment includes a mandatory minimum of $1,000 in criminal fines and at least a full year in prison.
Does Virginia Suspend Licenses for DUI/DWI?
The state law requirements for DUI/DWI license suspension appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-271. Under this section, any person convicted of DUI/DWI will face mandatory suspension or revocation of driving privileges. The precise suspension or revocation period fluctuates as follows:
- A First DUI/DWI — Results in one year of driver’s license suspension;
- A Second DUI/DWI — Results in three years of driver’s license revocation; or
- A Third or Subsequent DUI/DWI — Results in permanent driver’s license revocation.
Reach Out to Our Office for Help
If you need legal assistance with DUI/DWI under Virginia law, we can help. Reach out to the Leesburg drunk driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP for a consultation.