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Sentencing for a Virginia DUI Charge

It can be unclear what happens next after someone is arrested for a DUI in Virginia. Sometimes, depending on the person’s blood alcohol content levels and whether a judge convicts them of a DUI, they can go to jail. This could be a mandatory minimum as well, if their BAC scores were high enough. Anyone facing a DUI charge should therefore immediately contact an experienced Virginia DUI attorney, as these cases have severe consequences should it result in a conviction.

What Happens After a Virginia DUI Arrest

If a person is arrested on suspicion of a DUI in Virginia, he or she will be taken to the local adult detention center, which is also known as the ADC or the jail. Most counties have a local ADC. If they are smaller counties, they may share regional ADCs with several other counties.

Jail-Related Penalties

An individual can go to jail for a DUI in Virginia. It is not uncommon for a DUI offense to result in jail time – even for a DUI first offense in Virginia. First, it is common for someone who is arrested on suspicion of a DUI to spend the night in jail after being taken to the station. That person will typically be in the station and then given an opportunity to take a breath test on the EC/IR II machine. He or she may also be given a blood test, depending on nature of the offense.

If a person is given a breath test and that breath test shows alcohol over the legal limit, that person will be booked for a Virginia DUI charge. If a person is arrested on suspicion of a DUI and the alcohol level is confirmed at the local detention center, that person will typically be held until the blood alcohol content reaches zero. Depending on the level of alcohol ingestion at the time of the arrest, this may take several hours to achieve. During this time an individual will be regularly tested on a Portable Breath Testing machine, or the PBT, to see if the blood alcohol level is decreasing. Once it decreases to the limit acceptable for release from the jail—typically it is 0.00—an individual will be taken before the magistrate and released on a bond, depending on the circumstances of the case.

In addition, if the person is found guilty or convicted of a DUI offense, a jail sentence may be imposed. It occurs for first offenses all the way up to third offense and any subsequent offenses in Virginia. The particular amount of jail time and whether that jail time is a mandatory minimum time depends solely on circumstances of the case, prior criminal history, and level of reported BAC.

Mandatory Minimums in a Virginia DUI Sentence

Mandatory minimum means that if a person is found guilty of a certain type of offense, the sentence must include a certain amount of jail time or else it will be an illegal sentence and not enforceable. The most common mandatory minimums that are in play in DUI cases in Virginia are mandatory minimums based on the level of blood alcohol content or BAC and mandatory minimums based on second, third, or subsequent offenses.

The most common mandatory minimums that arise in Virginia are if someone is convicted of a DUI first offense or otherwise and the BAC is between .15 and .20. If this is the case, they must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration of at least five days. This means that if a person is charged with a DUI first offense and found guilty of a DUI with a BAC of .17, the judge must sentence that person to a period of incarceration of at least five days. It will be an illegal sentence for the warrant to reference .17 and the sentence not to include five days in jail. There are certain circumstances that may give rise to a removal of the reference to the BAC and a person’s attorney will discuss that with the client.

For Second or Third Offenses

In addition, when there is a second or third offense in Virginia, the mandatory minimum for sentencing is with the subsequent offenses. A minimum for a DUI second offense within 10 years is 10 days of mandatory minimum time. If it is a second offense in five years, it is 20 days mandatory minimum time. This is in addition to any mandatory minimum time for other things, such as BAC or having a child in the car. One can see how the jail time can quickly add up for people that are driving repeatedly with a high BAC in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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