Virginia DUI Lawyer
For those charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia, fines, court costs, probation, loss of driving privileges, ignition interlock installation, and incarceration are just some of the legal penalties that may result from a conviction. Personal ramifications include hindered or lost employment and educational opportunities and the social stigma of a criminal record. To try and avoid or minimize the impact of an alcohol-related conviction, contact a Virginia DUI lawyer who possesses the skill and experience needed to help you fight your charge.
Thomas Soldan has represented numerous individuals charged with DUI, DWI and other alcohol- and drug-related offenses in northern Virginia. Mr. Soldan’s experience and extensive training allow him to offer among strong defense services to his clients.
- Rising BAC Defense
- Independent Blood Testing
- Pre-Trial Release
- Posting Bond
- Post Release Documents
DUI Laws and Penalties in Virginia
Unfortunately, many people do not understand their legal rights when it comes to DUI. Many DUI arrests are the result of a routine traffic stop for a minor violation (read more about DUI stops and reasonable articulable suspicion). In other cases, the person charged with a DUI might not have been driving, but still able to operate the car. If you are pulled over, you do not have to answer questions about your whereabouts or activities preceding the stop. You also are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests, which officers may ask you to perform. Provide the police with your identification and insurance information, but do not say anything that may incriminate you or prompt the officer to follow up with a DUI investigation.
Additionally, Virginia is unlike its neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland and DC in that marijuana has not been decriminalized. That means a person caught driving under the influence of pot may face additional charges for marijuana possession. Someone who is driving while under impaired from legal prescribed drugs may still face charges.
Because of the Commonwealth’s implied consent laws, all driver’s are deemed to have consented to taking a breath or blood test if a police officer stops you on suspicion of drunk driving. However, if an officer asks you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT), you do have the right to refusal, though you will likely incur administrative penalties against your driver’s license.
DUI convictions can result in severe penalties that increase with each subsequent conviction. Penalties are determined by how many prior DUI convictions have been sustained within the past 10 years or within the past five years if the extremely high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels were detected and a minor was in the vehicle at the time of the offense. DUI penalties are defined in Section 18.2-270 of the state criminal code and include the attendance of a DUI class.
Additionally, having an arrest record means that not only is it available to the public, it can also have the potential to affect the rest of your life. This includes applying for jobs or other positions where having a conviction or an arrest is contingent upon whether or not you will be hired. After an arrest, someone facing DUI charges might very well end up in jail. There are mandatory minimum sentences that will be imposed depending on the conviction and their BAC levels.
If a person is convicted of DUI in Virginia, they may face the following:
Up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500. If their BAC registers at between 0.15 to 0.19, a minimum of five days in jail becomes mandatory. If the individual’s BAC is .20 or more, the penalty jumps to a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.
A second conviction within five years results in one month to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500 with an enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail. A second condition within 10 years includes the same base penalty with an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. Those convicted of DUI twice within 10 years and have a BAC that measures 0.15 to 0.19 percent face an additional penalty of 10 mandatory minimum days in jail. A BAC of .20 or higher can result in an additional penalty of 20 day mandatory, minimum sentence.
A third conviction within 10 years results in a Class 6 felony which carries a 90-day mandatory, minimum sentence. That means that you can may face one to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine. That is, unless, the court of jury trying the case choose a lesser penalty of 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500. Those convicted of DUI three times within five years face a mandatory, minimum term of six months in jail. You face one to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine, unless the judge or jury opt for a lesser term of six to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 to $2,500 fine. Anyone with more than three prior DUI convictions runs the risk of a Class 6 felony with a one year mandatory minimum and $1,000 minimum fine. That means you may still face one to five years in prison, and a fine of $1,000.
DUI While on Probation
Having a DUI charge while on probation can affect your probation status as well, either before or after the case is resolved. It is important that someone facing an additional charge understand how this could affect their probation or parole status, and retain the appropriate representation.
Prior convictions for involuntary manslaughter as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs means every subsequent DUI charge if a Class 6 felony with a $1,000 mandatory minimum fine and a one-year mandatory minimum sentence. The same prison and fine range applies as the previous Class 6 felony charge.
DUI with a Minor in the Vehicle
Can result in an additional five-day mandatory, minimum sentence and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.
Conviction will result in the seizure of the driver’s vehicle, which will be forfeited.
Additional penalties for some of DUI convictions can include, but are not necessarily limited to:
After first DUI:
- One-year license suspension;
- Completion of Alcohol Safety Action Program, and;
- Ignition interlock device needed for license to be reinstated, if their BAC measured above 0.15 percent.
After second DUI:
- License suspended for three years;
- Completion of Alcohol Safety Action Program, and;
- Ignition Interlock Device Required for Reinstatement of license.
After third DUI:
- Indefinite license suspension, though the driver may petition the court after five years has passed;
- If license reinstated, the ignition interlock device is required.
When you get in touch with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney they can guide you through the process of getting charged with driving under the influence. They can explain to you how certain factors, like seeking medical attention after an arrest, can seriously impact your case.
Frequently Asked Questions to a Virginia DUI Attorney
- What is an Operating a Vehicle DUI Conviction?
- What happens to my car?
- Is jail time mandatory for DUI in Virginia?
- What is a Victim Impact Panel?
- Will my job find out if I have been charged with a DUI?
- What can happen when I go to trial for DUI?
- What might prosecutors offer me as a plea for a DUI Charge in Virginia?
Thomas Soldan in His Own Words
Below are several links to question-and-answer pages excerpted from an interview with Virginia DUI attorney, Thomas Soldan in which he discusses the various aspects of DUI cases in Virginia.
- On Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
- On Defending HGN and Walk-and-Turn Test Results
- On Refusing the Field Sobriety and Portable Breath Tests
- On Chemical Breath and Blood Tests
- On Consequences of DUI Charges
- On Restricted Licenses and Ignition Interlock
You can also visit our page on Updated DUI Laws in Virginia here.
Great Job Thomas!
After I got a DUI Refusal I did an online search and Thomas had a bunch of great Reviews. I had an attorney previously and he was out of town for my court date so I had to get someone very last minute and I decided on going with Thomas. He got back to me very quickly, he made me feel at home and I walked out of there knowing that he was the attorney I wanted to choose. I was a little annoyed because the case kept getting postponed but it turned out for the better and got the case dismissed. He made the cop look like he did not know what he was talking about and based on the manual he proved he didn’t. It was great that he had local knowledge because his office is right around the corner. I would recommend Thomas because not only is he a good criminal defense attorney but he makes his clients feel comfortable by walking them step by step through the entire process.