Why Are DUI Penalties Tougher In Virginia?
Being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI, also colloquially known as DUI) in Virginia can be a frightening experience. You may be worried about steep fines, jail time, and how a conviction will affect your life and reputation. This is understandable, as Virginia has some of the harshest penalties for DUI conviction in the country.
But you don’t have to face these charges alone. For more than 15 years, the attorneys at the law office of Bain Sheldon have been defending Virginians who have been charged with DUI. We understand that people make mistakes and should be given second chances. Our caring attorneys can help you during this stressful time, working hard to lessen the penalties you may face due to a DUI charge. Contact us today for a consultation with an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Richmond, VA.
How Are the Laws Regarding DUI Different in Virginia?
Virginia has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. This starts with the state’s definition of driving while intoxicated, which includes both operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08% and simply showing signs of being intoxicated while behind the wheel. That means you don’t have to register a BAC above 0.08% to be charged with DUI in Virginia.
Virginia police can also arrest you without a warrant within three hours of a crash if they suspect you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the crash happened. Also, refusal to take a breathalyzer or a blood test is a crime in Virginia that can result in automatically losing your license for a year.
In most states, you won’t lose your license or face jail time after the first DUI. In Virginia, both of these punishments are a possibility after a single DUI conviction. And the penalties for subsequent convictions are very steep.
Virginia’s DUI laws also broadly apply to motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft, mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles, and cover inebriation due to both alcohol and drugs.
What are the penalties for a DUI Conviction in Virginia?
Under Virginia’s DUI laws, the punishment for a DUI conviction generally depends on whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction as well as your BAC level.
A first DUI is prosecuted as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and carries the following penalties:
- License suspension of up to 1 year
- Fine of at least $250
- Possible jail sentence of up to 12 months
- At least 5 days in jail if your BAC is at least .15 but below .20
- At least 10 days in jail if your BAC is over .20
A second DUI conviction is prosecuted as a felony, and carries the following penalties:
- 36-month license revocation
- Fine of at least $500
- Possible jail time up to a year
- At least 10 days in jail if the offense happened within 10 years of the previous conviction
- At least 20 days in jail if the offense happened within 5 years of the previous conviction
- At least 10 days in jail if BAC is above .15 but below .20
- At least 20 days in jail if BAC is above .20
A third DUI conviction is prosecuted as a felony, and carries the following penalties:
- Indefinite license revocation that could become permanent
- Mandatory fine of $1000
- Possible forfeiture of vehicle
- At least 90 days in jail if the third conviction came within 10 years of the first
- At least 6 months in jail if the third conviction came within 5 years of the first
How Could A Lawyer Help Me?
An experienced DUI lawyer understands Virginia’s penalties for DUI convictions. Even if your lawyer cannot get the DUI charges dropped entirely, they will fight hard to get the charges and penalties reduced so you can get on with your life.
Contact Our Experienced Attorneys for Help
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights and options. The Richmond DUI defense attorneys at the law office of Bain Sheldon offer free and confidential consultations, which you can arrange by phone (804-282-8625) or online.