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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > DUI > Top Five DUI Enhancements in Virginia

Top Five DUI Enhancements in Virginia


Usually, prosecutors file the most aggressive charges the facts could possibly support, and DUI is no exception. Virginia law includes various DUI enhancements, some of which are discussed below.

Usually, a Virginia DUI lawyer is much more concerned with the underlying offense than any attached enhancements. After all, if the underlying charge doesn’t hold up in court, the enhancements are meaningless. DUI is sometimes different. If the defendant gave a blood sample, unless the case involved a procedural error, it’s difficult to defend. So, the focus shifts to the enhancements. Peeling off the enhancements makes a bad situation a little better.


Enhanced penalties apply if the defendant is under 21. Frankly, if the officer asked for the defendant’s license before s/he said anything else, this enhancement is difficult to challenge. However, if the officer asked about the defendant’s age before inspecting the license, a procedural defense may be available. Officers must inform defendants of their Fifth Amendment rights before they ask any questions.

BAC Over .20

We mentioned blood tests above. These tests are usually quite accurate. Breathalyzer test results are a different matter. These tests have issues. Ketone particles are a good example.

Elevated ketone levels are very common among some people, mostly diabetics. Breathalyzers register ketones as ethanol. Therefore, the ethanol count and BAC estimate are inflated.

Such issues are especially critical in borderline BAC cases, such as a .19. Additionally, if the Breathalyzer wasn’t properly calibrated, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can often create reasonable doubt on this point.

Prior Conviction

During the charging process, prior conviction enhancements are easy to add since prosecutors just look at computer entries. Things are different in court.

First, not all alcohol-related driving offenses are the same. Many states criminalize OUI (operating under the influence) or a similar offense that’s not quite the same as DUI. Usually, an OUI conviction cannot enhance a DUI charge.

Second, to prove the enhancement in court, prosecutors must normally introduce a certified copy of the conviction record. This document is easy to obtain if the prior conviction was in Loudoun County. If the conviction was in another county, this paperwork could be hard to procure. Clerks fulfill these requests when they feel like fulfilling them.


Usually, prosecutors can easily establish the collision and intoxication elements in a DUI collision matter. The “driving” element of a DUI is another story.

Generally, officers didn’t see the defendant driving the car at the time of the accident. Instead, officers arrive on the scene after the fact and, in most cases, after everyone has exited their vehicles.

So, a credible witness must testify the defendant was behind the wheel. Alternatively, if the defendant must confess that s/he was driving, and that confession must be admissible under the Fifth Amendment, as outlined above.

Juvenile Passenger

Children have the same constitutional rights as adults. Officers cannot ask children questions, including questions about their ages unless they know their rights. Officers must explain their rights to them in language they understand, not Legalese.

Connect With a Savvy Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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