When Does DUI Become a Felony Crime in Virginia?
The Virginia Criminal Code makes it illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) or while impaired. Under Virginia law, it does not matter if intoxication or impairment comes from alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances. The moment a person loses the ability to drive safely and carefully, driving their vehicle can qualify as a DUI in Virginia.
That being said, there are both misdemeanor and felony versions of DUI offenses in Virginia. Within those categories, the mandatory minimum penalties can change based on various factors. Though, in all circumstances, a DUI conviction will result in a period of mandatory driver’s license suspension.
What is a Misdemeanor DUI in Virginia?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270 outlines the punishment for misdemeanor DUI. The misdemeanor version of DUI generally applies to the first or second offense. Depending on the circumstances of the DUI offense in question, Section 18.2-270 does create various mandatory minimum penalties.
For example, the first DUI charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia with a mandatory minimum fine of $250. But, if the driver in question registers a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.15, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five to 10 days.
A second DUI charge remains a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. There can be an increase to the mandatory minimum penalties involved, however. A second DUI conviction typically results in mandatory minimum punishments of 10 to 20 days in jail and $500 in criminal fines. These mandatory minimums also apply to second DUI convictions that also involved a BAC above 0.15.
What is a Felony DUI in Virginia?
Section 18.2-270 also explains the punishment for felony DUI. The felony version of DUI generally applies to the third, fourth, or subsequent offense. As with misdemeanor DUI offenses, the mandatory minimum penalties for felony DUI change based on various circumstances.
Any person who commits DUI three times is guilty of a Class 6 felony in Virginia and faces a minimum of $1,000 in criminal fines. If the convictions occurred within a 10-year period, there is a mandatory minimum of 90 days in prison. If the convictions occurred within a five-year period, however, there is a mandatory minimum of six months in prison.
The fourth or subsequent DUI offense remains a Class 6 felony in Virginia, with a minimum of $1,000 in criminal fines. There can be an increase to the mandatory minimum penalties involved: if the convictions occurred within a 10-year period, there is a mandatory minimum of 12 months in prison.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal assistance with criminal charges for DUI in Virginia, it can be decidedly valuable to reach out to a criminal defense attorney. The Leesburg criminal attorneys at Simms Showers LLP are prepared to assist you today. Call us for help.