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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Drunk Driving > What are the Virginia Laws & Penalties for DUI?

What are the Virginia Laws & Penalties for DUI?


Every year, drunk drivers cause a dizzying number of car accidents across the Commonwealth of Virginia, resulting in property damage, physical injury, and death. This unfortunate reality exists despite strict Virginia laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. After all, a conviction for DUI in Virginia can result in prison time and monetary penalties. Consequently, it is vital for all drivers to understand how Virginia defines and penalties DUI.

How Does Virginia Define DUI?

The definition of DUI appears under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266. This section makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while impaired and incapable of driving safely. Stated otherwise, Virginia DUI occurs the moment any substance interferes with the ability to observe the rules of the road and keep others out of danger.

Specifically, Section 18.2-266 includes impairment due to:

  • A blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more;
  • The influence of alcohol;
  • The influence of any illegal drug or similar substance; or
  • The combined influence of alcohol and illegal drugs or similar substances.

In terms of DUI for illegal drugs, Section 18.2-266 also establishes certain benchmarks. Precisely, it qualifies as a Virginia DUI if a driver registers:

  • 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.

How Does Virginia Penalize DUI?

The punishment scheme for DUI appears under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270. In many situations, the punishment for DUI in Virginia depends upon the number of previous offenses, if any.

  • First Offense — Constitutes a 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by one year in county jail and $2,500 in criminal fines;
  • Second Offense (within 10 years) — Remains a Class 1 misdemeanor, but there are mandatory minimums of one month in jail and at least $500 in fines; and
  • Third Offense (within 10 years) — Constitutes a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by one to five years in prison and $2,500 in criminal fines.

Outside of the punishment scheme described, Section 18.2-270 also provides distinct penalties for certain types of DUI. If the offender registers a BAC above 0.15, there are mandatory minimum penalties. The same is true for offenses committed within the same five-year period.

Additionally, Code of Virginia Section 18.2-271 outlines a separate penalty for any DUI offender. Upon conviction for a DUI offense, the offender will lose their driving privileges for at least one year. For repeat offenders, the driver’s license suspension or revocation period can extend even further than one year.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about criminal charges for DUI in Virginia, it can be markedly effective to contact a licensed Leesburg drunk driving attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP feature validated experience across many aspects of criminal defense in Virginia, including DUI and related charges. If you need legal assistance with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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