Survey of Virginia Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
In the interest of public safety, the Commonwealth of Virginia employs strict guidelines and harsh penalties for driving under the influence (DUI). Virginia prohibits any person from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for alcohol consumption in Virginia is a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. Any person who drives drunk or otherwise operates a vehicle while intoxicated is subject to a severe penalty scheme in Virginia.
DUI Crime Reporting
It is vital to note that law enforcement reports Virginia DUI offenses to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Any person who commits a DUI offense can end up with a criminal record.
Refusing a Breath Test
Any person who drives a car or otherwise operates a vehicle on Virginia roads provides implicit consent to DUI testing. If law enforcement makes an arrest on suspicion of DUI, the driver must submit to an official test of their breath or blood.
Refusing the test of breath or blood can result in penalties. The first test refusal can result in Administrative License Suspension (ALS) for 12 months. A second test refusal is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by ALS for 36 months, county jail for 12 months and fines of $2,500. Additionally, test refusal eliminates the possibility of obtaining a restricted driver’s license.
Standard DUI Penalties
The standard penalties for a DUI in Virginia escalate based on the number of convictions.
- First Conviction can result in ALS for 12 months and fines of at least $250;
- Second Conviction can result in ALS for 36 months, county jail for 12 months and fines of $500;
- Second Conviction (within 10 years) includes the possibility of a mandatory 10-day sentence in jail;
- Second Conviction (within 5 years) includes the possibility of a mandatory 20-day sentence in jail;
- Third Conviction can result in an indefinite period of ALS, 60 months in prison and fines of at least $1,000;
- Third Conviction (within 10 years) includes a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail and vehicle forfeiture; and
- Third Conviction (within 5 years) includes a mandatory sentence of 180 days in jail.
Heightened BAC Penalties
Virginia laws provide a separate penalty scheme for DUI offenses where the driver registered a BAC well above the legal limit of 0.08.
- A driver who registers a BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 faces at least five days in jail for the first offense. If the second offense occurs within 10 years, the driver faces at least 10 days in jail.
- A driver who registers a BAC of 0.20 or higher faces at least 10 days in jail for the first offense. If the second offense occurs within 20 years, the driver faces at least 10 days in jail.
In either case described above, the driver will also face the standard penalties for DUI offenses detailed in the previous section.
Contact Us for Assistance
If you are facing charges for DUI or other criminal offenses, it is crucial to seek legal counsel from a dependable criminal defense lawyer. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Simms Showers LLP today, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas.