virginia dui laws

A Guide to Understanding DUI Laws

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Drunk driving is a serious offense in Virginia.

The state sees around 27,000 DUI arrests and 7,500 alcohol-related crashes each year.

DUI laws differ from state to state, and it’s important to know what the rules and penalties exist where you are. In this article, we’ll go over Virginia DUI laws and what to do if you fall foul of them.

All About Virginia DUI Laws

How a DUI Is Measured

A DUI is measured by a driver’s blood alcohol level. However, there isn’t one blanket rule for everyone.

Individual cases are dictated by a person’s age and the type of driving license they hold.

For those who are 21 years of age or older, an arrest can be made if blood alcohol levels are at or above 0.08%. For those who are younger than 21, the limit is 0.02%.

Holders of Commercial Driving Licenses can be arrested if their blood alcohol levels are at 0.04%.

Commercial drivers can also be arrested if they test positive for drugs, or if they refuse a blood test.

Penalties for Offenders Under 21

If you are under the age of 21 and arrested for a DUI in Virginia, you’ll face one or more of the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your driving license for up to one year.
  • A fine of at least $500.
  • Community service for a minimum of 50 hours.
  • Entrance into an Alcohol Safety Action Program.

Penalties for Offenders Age 21 or Above

According to Virginia DUI laws, penalties for those who are over 21 vary.

Specific penalties depend on whether or not the defendant has any previous offenses, and if so, how many offenses they have committed. However, in every case, there may be court-ordered restitution, entrance into an Alcohol Safety Action Program, a restricted driver’s license, and a criminal record.

The judge may also order the installation of an ignition interlock device to the offender’s car. This device requires the driver to use a breathalyzer to prove that they do not exceed blood alcohol percentage limits before starting the car.

Below is a breakdown of penalties depending on the number of offenses.

Penalties for a First Offense

  • A 7-day administrative license suspension.
  • A fine of $250-$300. Minimum $250 fine; maximum $300 fine.
  • Driving license revoked for 1 year.
  • A criminal record.

If blood alcohol levels are 0.15%, there is an additional penalty of 5 days in jail. If they exceed 2.0%, this increases to 10 days.

Penalties for a Second Offence

  • A 60-day administrative license suspension.
  • A fine of at least $500.
  • Driving license revoked indefinitely.
  • Criminal record

If the second offense is committed less than five years after the first offense, it carries a mandatory jail term. The minimum term in this case is 1 month, and the maximum is 1 year.

If the second offense took place five-ten years after the first one, the jail term is reduced to a minimum of ten days. It can be increased to 20 days if blood alcohol levels are over 2.0%.

Penalties for a Third Offense

  • License suspended until trial.
  • Driving license revoked indefinitely.
  • A minimum fine of $1,000.
  • A felony charge.
  • Possible seizure of the vehicle.

If offenses are committed within 5 years of each other, the minimum jail term is 6 months. If within 10 years, the jail term is 90 days.

Penalties for a Fourth Offense

A fourth offense carries all the same penalties as a third one, only with an increased jail term of at least 1 year.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Virginia DUI laws don’t only relate to alcohol. They cover driving under the influence of drugs, too.

If you’re not sure whether you could pass a drug test, it’s a good idea to take one at home first. That way, you can avoid an arrest, a criminal record, and most importantly, jail time.

Find out how to complete an at-home drug test and avoid a DUI arrest.

Extra Charges

As well as standard DUI penalties, some extra charges are also applicable.

If you’re caught driving under the influence with a minor in your car, you will face an extra 5 days in jail, as well as an increased fine from $500 to $100.

If you get into a car accident that results in someone’s death, you will be charged with involuntary manslaughter. This is a felony charge, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

What to Do If You’re Arrested for a DUI in Virginia

Virginia DUI laws don’t prohibit pleading down, which means that it’s possible to have your charges reduced. This involves a plea bargain, by which your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor to the get best possible deal for you when a conviction is unavoidable.

In some cases, they may even be reduced to traffic violations. However, this is only possible with the correct legal counsel.

If you’re arrested for a DUI, it’s important to seek legal advice from an attorney. Instead of using any old law firm, contact one which specializes in defending such cases, such as Birocco Law.

If you’re facing multiple charges, an attorney may be able to get some of those charges dismissed. This will increase your likelihood of avoiding jail time, limits the damage to your criminal record, and minimizes the fines you’re required to pay.

You may be permitted to serve community service instead of doing jail time. However, if a jail sentence is mandatory, there is still room for negotiation. You may be able to serve your time on the weekends, allowing you to continue working while your sentence is being carried out.

Don’t Drink and Drive

The best way to avoid a DUI arrest is to avoid driving under the influence altogether.

It can be tempting to drink, even if you’ve promised to be the designated driver. However, it’s just not worth it. This is not only because you could face harsh penalties if you’re caught, but also because you could cause serious harm to yourself or others.

You don’t need to drink in order to have a good time, even if all of your friends are drinking. In fact, there are lots of ways to have fun without alcohol.

See our tips for being the sober life of the party to find out what they are.

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