Virginia DUI Basics
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, known as DUI, is a crime and can come with harsh penalties. While DUI is illegal in all states, each state has its own laws. This article looks at Virginia DUI laws and other important DUI-related information.
For most drivers, it is illegal to drive in Virginia with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. For commercial drivers the limit is .04 and for drivers under 21 it is .02. At these levels drivers are considered “impaired” by Virginia law, whether or not the driver is showing actual impairment. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs that impair driving, even those legally prescribed by a physician.
How Many Drinks is .08?
BAC is affected by many different factors and it is impossible to know exactly how many drinks a given person can drink before becoming impaired. Body weight, the amount of food in someone’s stomach, other medications, and other factors may affect how a person’s body metabolizes and handles alcohol. However, there are calculators that can estimate BAC based on body weight, amount of alcohol consumed, and amount of time elapsed. It is important to note that these calculators are just an estimate and drivers can be impaired at levels lower than the legal limit.
With the above disclaimer in mind, the general rule of thumb is that it takes an average sized male about one hour to metabolize each standard sized drink and each drink adds about .02 BAC. Women will generally metabolize alcohol more slowly and each drink will increase BAC more than it does for men. It is always safest to refrain from drinking at all if you are going to drive.
The penalties for DUIs vary based on whether it is your first, second, or third offense and how much time has passed since your previous offense. For a first DUI, the penalty is a fine of at least $250, the revocation of your driver’s license for at least a year and subject to a potential jail sentence. For a second DUI the penalty is a fine of at least $500, license revocation for three years and a possible jail sentence of up to a year. However, if your second offense is within 10 years of your first offense, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 10 days. If your second DUI is within five years of your first DUI, the penalty will mandatorily include a jail term of at least 20 days. If you are convicted of three DUIs within 10 years your license will be revoked indefinitely.
If you are convicted of a third DUI within any time period or of a DWI felony, it is a Class 6 felony and the penalty is mandatory license revocation and a fine of at least $1,000. However, aside from the mandatory minimum sentences, judges and prosecutors have a lot of discretion in sentencing and plea-bargaining. Therefore, a knowledgeable attorney can be a huge asset in getting the minimum penalty.
Leesburg, Virginia DUI Attorneys
If you have been charged with DUI, it is crucial that you have skilled DUI attorney on your side to help defend you against these charges. Our experienced DUI attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP serve clients in Leesburg, Loudoun County, Fairfax County and throughout northern Virginia and can help you present the best defense to your charges.