What is the Difference Between Adult & Underage DUI in Virginia?
Drunk driving is a particularly dangerous activity across the Commonwealth of Virginia, resulting in numerous instances of property damage, physical injury, and death each year. Depending on the age of the drunk driver and the amount of alcohol consumed, there are both underage and adult versions of DUI in Virginia.
How Does Virginia Define & Punish Underage DUI?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266.1 establishes the state laws against and punishment for underage DUI. Under this section, underage DUI occurs when a person under the age of 21:
- Operates a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol illegally; and
- Registers a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.02 and 0.08.
It is vital to note the BAC upper limit for being charged with underage DUI is the BAC legal limit for adults. Stated otherwise, an underage driver can face adult DUI charges, if they exceed the adult BAC limit of 0.08.
Section 18.2-266.1 also explains the punishment for underage DUI. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and subject to:
- Driver’s license suspension for 12 months from the date of conviction; and
- Mandatory minimum fine of at least $500; or
- Mandatory community service for at least 50 hours.
Underage DUI offenders are allowed to apply for a restricted driver’s license during the 12-month suspension period.
How Does Virginia Define & Punish Adult DUI?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266 establishes the state laws against and punishment for adult DUI. Under this section, adult DUI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle and registers:
- 08 or more in BAC;
- 02 milligrams or more of cocaine per liter of blood;
- 1 milligrams or more of methamphetamine per liter of blood;
- 01 milligrams or more of PCP per liter of blood; or
- 1 milligrams or more of ecstasy per liter of blood.
Adult DUI can also occur if a person becomes impaired due to consumption of alcohol, pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, or a combination of substances, regardless of recorded levels of drug or alcohol content. In this sense, impairment occurs when a person loses the ability to drive safely and, thus, presents a dangerous risk of physical injury or property damage.
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270 details the criminal punishment for adult DUI. Typically, the punishment changes based on the number of previous offenses, if any:
- First Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $250 and the potential for a jail sentence;
- Second Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory jail sentence of 10 to 20 days;
- Third Offense — Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a mandatory prison sentence of 90 days to six months; or
- Fourth or Subsequent Offense — Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a mandatory prison sentence of 12 months.
In addition to the criminal penalties, adult DUI offenses are subject to mandatory suspension of driving privileges under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-271. Depending on the number of previous offenses, if any, adult DUI normally results in 12 to 36 months of license suspension.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you need legal assistance with underage or DUI in Virginia, it can be tremendously helpful to contact a skilled Leesburg drunk driving attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP understand how to defend against criminal charges, including underage and adult DUI. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.