Occoquan DUI/Reckless FAQs
Reckless driving and DUI charges can result in serious penalties, including jail time and fines of thousands of dollars. An experienced Occoquan defense attorney, one who has handled DUI and reckless driving charges in the past, will know best how to fight such charges. This may include pushing to have the charges dropped or for a not guilty verdict in court. If neither of those results is possible, an attorney can pursue a plea agreement in exchange for reduced penalties and charges. The following are commonly asked questions regarding reckless driving and DUI charges in Occoquan. For answers to specific questions, we suggest you retain the services of well-qualified counsel.
Occoquan DUI FAQs
What are the penalties for a DUI/DWI conviction in Occoquan County?
For a first offense, you could receive up to 12 months in jail, be fined $250 to 2,500, and receive a one year driver’s license suspension. A second conviction could result in a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum of $2,500, up to a year in jail – with a potential mandatory minimum term of 40 days – and a three year license suspension. Third and further convictions will see the fine raised to between $1,000 and $2,500 and a mandatory minimum term of six months in jail as well as an indefinite driver’s license suspension. See VCC § 18.2-270.
Penalties for drinkers under the age of 21 include a minimum fine of $500, a one year driver’s license suspension, and 50 hours of community service. It’s important to note that those under the age of 21 need only to register 0.02 percent to qualify for a DUI charge. See V.C.C § 18.2-266.1.
Can I have a jury trial for a DUI charge?
There are no jury trials in the General District Court of Virginia. All trials are conducted before a judge. If you are found guilty you do have the automatic right to appeal the case to the Circuit Court for a new trial. At this new trial you have the right to insist on a jury trial, as does the Commonwealth.
How long will my license be suspended for after I’m charged with DUI?
The length of your administrative suspension depends on how many times you have committed this offense over a period of 15 years.
- First offense – Seven days
- Second offense – 60 days or until trial
- Third offense – until your trial date
If you are convicted, you will lose your license for at least a year.
What is a “look-back” period in Occoquan?
It’s the amount of time that all previous convictions can be applied to a current charge. In Occoquan, and throughout Virginia, the look-back period for DUI is 15 years. If – for example – you have a seven-year-old DUI conviction when you get your second, and depending on your BAC level for the current charge, you might have to spend an extra couple of weeks, or more, in jail than you would have if it was your first offense.
Can I get a permit to drive during my administration suspension before I go to court?
No. During the administrative license suspension period prior to trial you may not drive for any reason. If you are caught, you face arrest and charges of driving with a suspended license. However, those convicted of DUIs may qualify for restricted licenses, though it’s not guaranteed.
Am I required by law to perform sobriety tests?
No, but if you refuse you should do so respectfully. Sobriety tests are used as evidence to qualify for probable cause for an arrest. However, those who refused such tests will most likely be arrested. You must decide if you want to run the risk of taking a sobriety test and failing, or refusing the test and being arrest. Both decisions have benefits and negatives.
Are there any other penalties I might face if I refuse the tests in Occoquan?
The short answer is yes. Your driver’s license will be immediately suspended for a year and you won’t be able to get any kind of restricted license during that period. On the other hand, by agreeing and failing the test, you are giving the prosecution incriminating evidence to be used against you in your DUI trial. Both choices pose risks. Regardless of your decision, and the results, there are ways in which either choice can be successfully challenged in court with the help of a well-qualified Occoquan DUI lawyer.
What’s an ignition interlock device? Do I have to get one?
An ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a small electronic instrument – about the size of a cellphone – that connects to your car ignition through the vehicle’s firewall. You must blow into it and if it detects a specific BAC percentage (usually determined by the court and may be as low as 0.02 percent) it will prevent your car from starting. It can also be set to occasionally request that you perform a “rolling test” while you are driving. All readings are kept on a small data chip. Data is downloaded from the chip and sent to the court and the DMV.
Those who are required to have the devices installed must pay for the installation and upkeep of the devices out of pocket. The length of time that you must have the device is determined by the court.
Reckless Driving FAQs
What are the punishments for reckless driving?
Any Virginia Class 1 misdemeanor – including reckless driving – is a jailable offense and, as such, any time incarceration is a possibility it’s a serious legal matter. Penalties include up to a year for a first-time offense, though a good attorney will be able to fight the maximum penalty. Nonetheless, you may still spend time in jail and you may be hit with a fine as high as $2,500. Again, it shouldn’t be nearly that much for a first offense. Judges have discretion in handing down reckless driving sentences so if you don’t get a lot of tickets, and it’s your first offense, the lower the fine and the less jail time you will likely face. You could also have your driver’s license suspended for up to six months. And once your insurance company learns of the ticket, you rates will probably go up or you could be dropped by your insurance carrier.
Why is reckless driving so serious in Virginia?
A few years ago, the legislature determined the most serious driving offenses that posed the greatest danger to the general public. These offenses were combined into one group, referred to as reckless driving offenses. There are many different violations that may qualify for a reckless offense. The most common include:
- Out-of-control vehicles – usually called the “faulty brake” law – can apply to any failure to maintain or keep up essential systems. See V.C.C. § 46.2-853.
- Passing at a railroad crossing [V. C. C. § 46.2-858].
- Passing a school bus [V. C. C. § 46.2-859].
Can I just pay a fine by mail?
No. You can do that with all other tickets, but not with reckless driving. In this case, the state wants you to appear before a judge so you will understand the consequences for violating any of these statutes. Failure to appear means a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
What if my speedometer is broken?
If your speedometer is giving you false or inaccurate readings, getting it checked and repaired is a very good idea and the sooner the better. If, for example, you were ticketed for driving more than 20 mph over the limit, but you speedometer was reading 10 mph slower than your actual speed, an attorney may be able to petition the court to drop the reckless driving charge or opt for a lesser charge. The court, however, may find that you were negligent in not having your speedometer repaired earlier. This is why it’s best for you to consult a lawyer before doing anything.
If my license is suspended, how can I drive to work or school?
You can petition the court for a restricted license in order to drive to and from work, school, medical appointments and to take children to and from school/day care, church, and other essential trips, to name a few. See V.C.C. § 18.2-271.1 (E i-xiii).
Is texting reckless driving in Occoquan?
Not yet. But it could be soon. Before 2013, it was punishable by a small fine of $20 and charged as a “secondary offense,” which meant that you couldn’t be ticketed for it unless you were charged with another traffic violation. As of September 2014, it’s a Class 4 misdemeanor ($125 fine for a first offense, $250 for a second and all subsequent offenses). Distracted driving is fast becoming a serious issue in Occoquan, and throughout the Commonwealth, so enhanced penalties are a possibility. It wouldn’t surprise many if this ends up being the next offense that the legislature adds to the reckless driving group of offenses.
What are the benefits of having a lawyer defend me from a reckless driving charge?
A defense lawyer can speak with prosecutors at any time and negotiate plea deals, or even share pertinent facts that can convince the prosecuting attorney to drop the charges altogether. Attorneys are also able to mount defenses that can reduce fines, jail time, and potential DMV demerit points. If it’s a first offense, most experienced reckless driving lawyers can keep their client out of jail and ensure that they do not face the maximum fines. There are many other benefits as well, but the decision is up to you.
To get to the Prince William County Criminal charges page, click here.