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First Offense DUI Penalties in Virginia

Penalties for a First DUI Offense  in Virginia

In Virginia, it is illegal for anyone to drive or operate a motor vehicle if they fall under any of the following categories:

  • They have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08
  • They are under the influence of alcohol but with a BAC level below 0.08. If the driver’s BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08 the BAC does not create a presumption of guilt but it may be combined with other evidence to determine whether the driver is guilty of driving under the influence.  If it is below 0.05, the driver may enjoy an inference of innocence, however, other factors may be used to overcome that presumption given the specific circumstances of the case.  These presumptions do not apply at the same threshold if the operator is a commercial driver.
  • They are under the influence of any drug(s), including prescription drugs, to the point that it impairs their ability to operate their motor vehicle safely.
  • They are under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs to the point that it impairs their ability to operate their motor vehicle safely.
  • They have 0.02 milligram of cocaine per liter of blood, 0.1 milligram of methamphetamine per liter of their blood, or 0.01 milligram of PCP per liter of their blood.

If a person is convicted of driving under the influence, then he or she faces up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500.  If the defendant has a BAC of at least 0.15 but under 0.20, then that person receives an enhanced penalty —a mandatory minimum of five days in jail—in addition to the other harsh penalties discussed herein. .  If the guilty suspect has a BAC of 0.20 or higher, the enhanced penalty is a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the mandatory minimum period of incarceration must be served as “straight time” meaning that you may not be eligible for weekend service.  In addition, these five or ten day mandatory periods are not subject to “good time credit” that typically applies to misdemeanor sentences that include active jail time

In addition to the criminal penalties of a DUI first conviction, the following additional penalties await the suspect:

  • Driver’s license suspension of twelve months.
  • Completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) to the satisfaction of the local ASAP authority.
  • Potential restricted license privileges pursuant to statutory restrictions

Your License After a DUI Charge

First DUI Penalties in Virginia First-time DUI offenders may request a “restricted license” that can be granted under certain conditions, the first of which is approval by the sentencing judge.  This approval varies depending on the jurisdiction, the facts of your particular case, and your driving record.  If the request is granted by the judge in your case, your restricted driver’s license allows you to drive to and from work (and possibly during work if driving is part of your job).  You will also be allowed to drive to and from school, medical appointments, court-ordered alcohol counseling programs, including ASAP and other requirements such as community service.  Be sure to discuss with your Virginia DUI attorney the full list of permitted driving, and what is not allowed. As of July 1, 2012, if you request a restricted license in Virginia, even for a first offense, you will be required to have ignition interlock installed for a minimum of six months, and in many cases, longer.

Finally, if any driver under 21 has a BAC of 0.02 or higher, then he or she may be found guilty of driving after illegally consuming alcohol.  The underage driver will be charged with of a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500, but the driver might be able to serve 50 hours of community service in lieu of the $500 mandatory minimum fine.  In addition, the minor driver will have his or her driver’s license suspended for twelve months, and may have the same opportunity to seek a restricted license.  This “baby DUI” statute has been toughened up in recent years, and it makes driving under the influence at any BAC serious business in Virginia.

A Virginia DUI Attorney

There are certain facets of first-time DUI that might be subject to discretionary reduction by the prosecution as part of a plea bargain by your defense lawyer, including possible sentence suspension, fines and probation.  Those depend on the unique circumstances surrounding your case.  But even if you receive probation, you will have a criminal record, which can affect future job opportunities, your current job, insurance, driving privileges, , and other ramifications that can follow you around for many years.

If you are facing any DUI charges, contact our experienced Virginia DUI attorney  immediately for a free case evaluation and to learn not only your defense options but also possible strategies and sentencing options that may be available to you.

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