Will I Go to Jail for a First-time Driving Under the Influence Offense in Virginia?
Driving under the influence–referred to as driving while intoxicated, or DWI–in Virginia, is a serious offense. Indeed, if a person is charged with a DWI, they will be arrested and face criminal charges. If convicted, they could be penalized by a license suspension, a fine, a mark on their permanent record, and the required installation of an interlock ignition device. But what about jail time – can a person be incarcerated for a first-time DWI/DUI offense in our state?
Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated in Virginia
If you are charged and convicted of a DWI offense in Virginia, even if it is a first-time DWI offense, you can be sentenced to a period of incarceration. To be sure, the full range of potential penalties for a first-time DWI conviction in our state include:
- A fine of between $250 and $2,500;
- A one-year license suspension;
- Up to one year in jail.
Note that a person may be assessed the fine, or sentenced to up to one year in jail, or both. Second-offense DWIs are more harshly penalized, although the potential jail term is the same. However, if the second offense occurred within 10 years of the first, there is a mandatory 10-day minimum incarceration period. Keep in mind that you may also be required to attend an alcohol education class or/and perform community service. Of course, a DWI on your record will also affect your future opportunities, too.
What Does the Prosecution Need to Prove?
In order to secure a conviction of DWI, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating or driving a motor vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the degree that the substance(s) impaired your ability to drive. While a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent will serve as proof of violation of the DWI law in our state, the prosecution can secure a conviction without any proof of your BAC being at or above .08 percent if there is other evidence of guilt, such as the results of a poorly performed field sobriety test, testimony from a witness who saw you drinking, etc.
What to Do If You’re Facing a Conviction
Being convicted of a DWI/DUI offense can be scary, especially if jail time is on the table. The first thing that you should do if you have not already done so is to retain the counsel of a skilled legal professional. Working with a lawyer may significantly improve the outcome of your case.
Typically, you will have two options for avoiding jail time:
- Defend yourself against charges and create doubt of your guilt in the minds of the court (remember, you must be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt); or
- Enter a plea deal with the prosecution where you plead guilty to charges in exchange for a concession from the prosecution. For example, you might plead guilty in exchange for charges against you being reduced, or for a less severe sentencing recommendation.
Call Our Experienced Virginia DUI/DWI Lawyers Today
While being charged with a crime is bad enough, going to jail can be very shocking and upsetting. If you are facing charges for a DUI/DWI crime in our state and jail time is a possibility, we strongly recommend that you reach out to the law office of Bain Sheldon for the legal counsel and defense that you need. We have worked on numerous DWI cases over the years and know how to advocate for our clients. Don’t wait any longer to take action – reach out to our law firm today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights and your options.