Virginia residents accused of a DUI face jail time, fines, court costs, probation, the loss of their driver’s license, and more. The personal ramifications from a DUI conviction can include lost employment and educational opportunities. There is also the social stigma of a criminal record. In this Virginia DUI guide, we will discuss what constitutes a DUI in Virginia, the penalties of a DUI, and other essential factors that can help you understand the charges you are facing.
What Constitutes a DUI in Virginia?
Virginia DUI laws prohibit drivers from driving or operating a motor vehicle:
- While under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- With a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or righter
- With a blood concentration of .1 milligrams per liter or more of methamphetamine
- With a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of cocaine, or
- With a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of phencyclidine (PCP)
In Virginia, any amount of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle can result in a DUI charge and conviction. Most criminal charges for drunk driving involve a driver with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher. However, prosecutors do not need to prove that you had a BAC of .08% or higher to convict you. Even if your BAC was below .08%, you could still face an arrest and conviction for a DUI.
Generally, a driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol if the substances ingested impair his or her ability to operate or drive a vehicle safely. Additionally, in Virginia, there is a zero-tolerance policy for minors operating a motor vehicle while driving. It is illegal for underage drivers under 21 to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or higher.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Virginia
In Virginia, the penalties for a DUI can be severe, and they increase in severity with each subsequent DUI conviction. If you are convicted of a DUI, the court will determine your penalties by how many DUI convictions you have sustained within the last 10 years or the last five years if you had extremely high blood alcohol content levels and a minor was in the vehicle at the time. Additionally, if you are arrested for a DUI, this information will be available to the public and could negatively affect your career and housing situation. There are mandatory minimum jail sentences imposed upon you, depending on the factors involved in your conviction and your BAC level.
First DUI Offense in Virginia
If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you face a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine between $250 and $2,500. If your blood alcohol concentration level is between .15 and .19, you will spend a minimum of five days in jail. If your blood alcohol level is 20 or higher, the mandatory minimum penalty will increase to 10 days in jail.
Second DUI Offense in Virginia
The penalties for DUI increase with subsequent convictions. If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will spend between one month up to one year in jail and face a fine between $500 and $2,500 with an additional penalty of a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail. If this is your second DUI conviction within a 10-year time frame, you will have the same base penalty and an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.
Suppose you have been convicted of a DUI twice within ten years and have a blood alcohol concentration level that measures .15 to .19%. In that case, you will face an additional penalty of 10 mandatory minimum days in jail. With a blood-alcohol concentration of .2% or higher, you can face a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 days in jail.
Third DUI Offense in Virginia
A third conviction of a DUI within 10 years is considered a Class 6 felony that carries a minimum 90-day mandatory jail sentence. You may face one to five years in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. It is possible for the judge or jury hearing your case to choose a lesser penalty of 90 days to 12 months in jail and fines between $1,000 to $2,500. Defendants convicted of a DUI three times within five years face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months. They will face a prison sentence between one and five years and a $1,000 fine unless the judge offers a lesser penalty.
A defendant with more than three prior DUI convictions could be charged with a Class 6 felony with a mandatory prison sentence of at least one year and a $1,000 minimum fine. You can still face one to five years in prison, but the mandatory prison sentence will be one year if you are convicted.
DUI While on Probation
If you are charged with a DUI while on probation, the DUI can affect your probation status before or after your case is resolved. We recommend discussing your case with an attorney as soon as possible to understand how being convicted of a DUI can affect your probation or parole status.
DUI With a Minor in the Vehicle
If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol and driving with a minor in the vehicle, you will face an additional five-day mandatory minimum jail sentence. You will also face fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.
A conviction for felony DUI will result in the seizure of your driver’s license, which will be forfeited. In addition to this penalty, there are other mandatory penalties for those facing felony DUI charges in Virginia.
Contact a Lynchburg DUI Attorney Today
If you are facing a DUI charge, your future is on the line. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight your DUI charge. The Lynchburg DUI defense attorneys at Straw Law Firm have a proven track record of successfully representing clients facing DUI charges in Virginia. Contact Straw Law Firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about how we can fight for you.