Deaths from drunk driving have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Even during a pandemic, the number of drunk driving deaths in Virginia is higher than in 2019. Drunk drivers are not self-quarantining. Some localities have had up to a 34% increase in drunk driving deaths. Virginia officials have increased the presence of local and state law enforcement to combat drunk driving. If you are facing drunk driving charges in Virginia, you may receive serious penalties. If convicted, your driver’s license could be revoked or even suspended. You could also be subject to jail time.
First-Time DUI Charges are Serious in Virginia
Being charged with a DUI can be a stressful and frightening experience. First-time offenders who have not been part of the criminal justice system before do not know what to expect and can be overwhelmed. Even though the penalties for a first-time DUI are less severe than for those who have been convicted before, they are still severe. One of the most important things you can do is speak with an experienced Lynchburg DUI lawyer today.
The Penalties of a First-Time DUI Conviction
If you have been charged with a first time DUI in Virginia, the penalties you face depend on your blood alcohol content (BAC). If your blood alcohol content was less than .15% for your first-time offense, you would face misdemeanor penalties of:
- Up to a $2,500 fine
- Up to 12 months in jail
- A one-year revocation of your administrative driver’s license
- A mandatory alcohol education class
- Increased insurance premiums
- A mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension
- Mandatory jail time for high blood alcohol levels
- Ignition interlock required in some cases
If you have been charged with a first time DUI in Virginia and your blood alcohol level was between .15% and .20%, you will face the same penalties mentioned above with an additional mandatory five-day jail sentence. If you have been charged with a first-time DUI and your blood alcohol level was over .20%, you will face the same penalties with an additional 10-day jail sentence. In addition to these penalties, you may face other penalties depending on the facts in your case, such as:
- You were involved in a car accident that resulted in property damage or personal injury
- You were under the age of 21 at the time of your arrest
- There were minor children in your car with you during the arrest
Other Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Virginia
In addition to the administrative and criminal penalties for a first-time DUI conviction, there are other types of consequences. Defendants convicted of DUI often experience stress in their professional and personal lives. The defendant could lose his or her job over the DUI charge. For example, if the defendant is a commercial driver with a commercial driver’s license, the commercial driver’s license will be suspended. Some employers refuse to hire employees with DUI convictions on their driving records.
Even if you have only been convicted of a DUI once, you could have difficulty finding a place to live. Many apartment complexes will run a background check and determine whether the potential renter has a criminal record. Some apartment complexes will not rent units out to those with criminal records. Being convicted of a DUI will also make your life extremely difficult. When your driver’s license is suspended, you will become dependent on other people to get to and from work and running errands. If public transportation is not available, you will need to pay for ride-sharing services, taxis, or arrange car rides with a friend or family member.
Underage DUI Charges
What are the penalties for a DUI conviction when the driver was underage? Dealing with a DUI charge is difficult, but when the defendant is under 21, he or she faces unique penalties. Under Virginia law, any driver under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content of .02% or higher can be charged with a DUI. Under Virginia law, if there is any amount of alcohol in a driver system, he or she has consumed alcohol.
Drivers are not allowed to consume alcohol when they are not yet 21, and when they drink and drive, they face charges for a class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. Additionally, the driver will lose his or her license for up to a year and maybe order to complete up to 50 hours of community service. When teenagers and adults are convicted of drunk driving, the consequences can have disastrous effects. A DUI conviction can make it challenging to secure student loans, live on campus, and attend college.
Defending Against a First-Time DUI Charge
Every DUI case is different and requires a unique legal strategy. In some cases, law enforcement officials violate a defendant’s constitutional rights by engaging in an unconstitutional search and seizure. In other cases, law enforcement officers do not follow the correct procedures for measuring the defendant’s blood alcohol content. Or, the defendant could have a valid reason for having a high blood alcohol content. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will analyze your case and develop the best possible legal strategy.
Contact a Virginia First-Time DUI Lawyer
Sometimes people assume that the DUI penalties will not be severe if they have not been charged before. However, first-time DUI penalties can be significant, and defendants should take their legal defenses seriously. Finding the right lawyer for your first-time DUI case is important. At Straw Law Firm, our lawyers have successfully represented many clients in first-time DUI charges throughout the Lynchburg area. We have the resources, experience, and knowledge to provide you with an excellent legal defense. We will investigate your case and determine the best legal strategy for you. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.