Virginia DUI, DWI, & DUID Charges
Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Virginia has severe and lasting consequences. For example, even a first offense could result in a Class 1 misdemeanor sentence, up to twelve months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, a seven-day suspension of your driver’s license immediately after your arrest (and a separate one-year suspension if convicted), and forced enrollment in the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP). If you are arrested for DUI, DWI, or DUID in Virginia, you should be well-informed of the potential penalties you could be facing and the impact that a conviction could have on you and your loved ones. Read on to learn more about drunk driving charges in Virginia.
Facts to Know about Drunk Driving Charges
In Virginia, a person may be charged with DUI if they are driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. A person could be charged with DUID if they are caught operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of narcotics or prescription drugs. First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.08 or higher are subject to an immediate seven-day license suspension, under most scenarios. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20, you are subject to a minimum of five days in jail, if convicted. If your BAC is above 0.21, the jail term is increased to 10 days.
If you are a driver under 21 years of age, if your BAC is at least 0.02 but not more than 0.08, the fine is up to $500 and your license will be suspended for six months. Commercial vehicle operators with a minimum 0.04 BAC receive an automatic one-year license suspension or a three-year disqualification if they are transporting hazardous material.
First-time offenders may be eligible for a restricted license that allows them to drive to and from work, ASAP classes, school, religious services, and other statutorily-mandated reasons, including medical appointments. However, it can be difficult to convince the court to allow you to obtain a restricted license, and some judges will not consider authorizing a restricted license until at least 30 days after your conviction. Virginia’s implied consent laws mean that if you operate a motor vehicle in the state, you automatically agree to submit to a chemical test for drugs or alcohol if arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. If you refuse the test after implied consent is triggered, you may be subject to an immediate administrative license suspension for seven days. In addition, you will likely be charged with the additional charge of unreasonable refusal, which carries with it a one year complete loss of driving privileges, without the possibility of earning a restricted license, if convicted. Further, if you are convicted of a DUI as well as unreasonable refusal, the loss of license period stacks for a potential loss of two years for a first DUI conviction and first refusal conviction.
Insurance Rates and Vehicle Impoundment
If you are convicted of a DUI, DWI, or DUID offense in Virginia, your insurance rates are likely to increase. You may have to find another insurance company or pay more money for less coverage. Under many circumstances, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires special high-risk insurance to satisfy its insurance requirement. Virginia law also requires the impoundment of your vehicle if you drive after your license has been suspended for a drunk driving-related offense.
Accident, Death, or Injury
Virginia has harsh penalties for any accident, injury, or death that results from a person driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Section 18.2-36.1 of the Code of Virginia deals with the specific instance of driving under the influence resulting in death, which may be punished as involuntary manslaughter. Depending on the specific factual circumstances, such conduct could be treated as a Class 5 felony, or if certain factors are met, the conduct could be charged as aggravated involuntary manslaughter with potential punishment of one to twenty years in prison with a one-year mandatory minimum. This is in addition to steep fines and lengthy license revocations as dictated by Section 46.2-391(B).
Virginia DUID Limits
Particular to Virginia are set per se limits placed on certain types of drugs present in a person’s blood stream. The limits are:
- 0.02 milligrams per liter of blood for cocaine
- 0.1 milligrams per liter of blood for methamphetamine
- 0.01 milligrams per liter of blood for phencyclidine
- 0.1 milligrams per liter of blood for methylenedioxy-methamphetamine
It is easy to see why one who has been arrested on a DUI, DWI, or DUID charge should have an experienced Virginia criminal attorney to represent them. The law in Virginia is strict and prosecutors are aggressive in trying to put those accused of drunk driving behind bars. The state has also adopted truth in sentencing laws, which require mandatory sentences, fines, and license revocation. Skilled Virginia DUI defense lawyer Thomas Soldan can provide you with the facts concerning the state’s DUI laws so that you know what you are facing. Call his law office today to find out more about your options for defense.