Virginia Judge Declares Portsmouth Police Officer Not Guilty of DUI
Despite registering a chemical test well above the legal limit for alcohol, a Portsmouth police officer received a not guilty verdict for driving under the influence (DUI), according to an article by WAVY.
This incident dates back to September 16th. On that day, the police officer was off-duty and driving down Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth and crashed into another passenger vehicle. The driver of that passenger vehicle sustained serious physical injuries in the accident.
After law enforcement responded to the incident, the Portsmouth officer engaged in several field sobriety tests without signs of intoxication. But when law enforcement administered a chemical test, the Portsmouth officer registered a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.13, well above the legal limit in Virginia.
At trial, the Virginia judge determined that the field sobriety tests were sufficient to rule out intoxication or impairment. Though given the officer’s BAC test, it seems like an appeal may be in the works. In the meantime, it seems like an excellent opportunity to review DUI laws and penalties in Virginia.
DUI Laws in Virginia
As explained in Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266, it is unlawful to operate many vehicles while impaired by alcohol or drugs and incapable of safe operation. Virginia DUI laws apply specifically to:
- Trucks; and
- Similar motor vehicles.
From a higher-level standpoint, when a person is impaired and unable to drive safely — from consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both — it is a violation of Virginia law.
In addition to the general prohibitions against impaired driving, there are also specific limits for alcohol and drug consumption in Virginia. It qualifies as a DUI if a driver registers a chemical test with any of the following results:
- 08 or more of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC);
- 1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood;
- 1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood;
- 02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood; or
- 01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood.
DUI Penalties in Virginia
As highlighted in Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270, the state penalties for DUI exist on a tiered system. Under certain circumstances — such as repeat offenses or high levels of BAC — a DUI offender can face more severe penalties. As illustrated below, Virginia DUI penalties can oscillate based on numerous factors:
- FIRST DUI OFFENSE
- Standard Penalty — Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $250;
- BAC of 0.15-0.20 — Includes the standard penalty as well as a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days; and
- BAC above 0.20 — Includes the standard penalty as well as a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days.
- SECOND DUI OFFENSE
- Standard Penalty — Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $500;
- BAC of 0.15-0.20 — Includes the standard penalty as well as a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days; and
- BAC above 0.20 — Includes the standard penalty as well as a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about DUI or similar criminal charges in Virginia, it is helpful to consult with a reputable DUI & DWI attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, have an esteemed reputation with criminal defense across Virginia, including DUI and related offenses. If you have legal questions about criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.