Every year, Virginia drivers suffer as a result of unfortunate car accidents that occur as a result of drivers who operate their vehicles while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol. Because of the injuries and fatalities associated with alcohol, Virginia has tough state laws that mandate strict punishment for individuals who are convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DWI and DUI Laws in Virginia
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a first offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a Class One Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.00. A conviction for DUI under §18.2-266 of the Virginia Code results in a statutory 12 month loss of license and mandatory enrollment in the Alcohol Safety Action Program. If eligible, a Defendant may receive a restricted license to drive to work, school, child care and medical appointments.
DUI is a serious criminal offense and stays on a Virginia driving record for eleven (11) years. The DMV assesses six points as a demerit deduction for this conviction. DUI convictions may impact insurance rates, employment opportunities, and applications for security clearances.
The legal limit for adult drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia is 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. The concentration of blood alcohol is usually measured by police with a breath test machine called the Intox EC/IR II, made by Intoximeters, Inc., a company located in St. Louis, MO. These machines are relatively new and replaced the older Intoxilyzer 5000 machines used for years in the Commonwealth. To learn more about Virginia's DUI/DWI laws, please review:
Understanding DUI/DWI Test Results
Test results from the Intox EC/IR II may be introduced into evidence at the trial of a DUI. If the test results indicate a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more of alcohol, there arises a rebuttable presumption that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol intoxicants at the time of the alleged offense. In order for the test results to come into evidence at trial, the person who administered the test must now be present in court as a witness (due to the recent Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts decision from the United States Supreme Court). At trial, the presumption of intoxication from test results may be overcome by a defendant's driving conduct, performance on field sobriety tests, and behavior at the time of arrest. For answers to some commonly asked questions about DUI/DWI charges in Virginia, see:
Penalties Vary Depending on Level of Intoxication
Individuals who are stopped and caught with their BAC above or even at the legal state limitations can be charged with a DWI or DUI. Being convicted of either charge will cause violators to endure strict punishments, including a criminal charges being placed upon their permanent record.
Generally, the penalties for DUI increase depending on the level of intoxication, the defendant's driving record, and behavior at the time of the stop. On a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 to 0.14, a defendant may receive jail time that is all suspended, conditioned on his or her good behavior. Defendants with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 to 0.20 receive a mandatory, minimum incarceration of five days. If the blood alcohol level is more than 0.20, the mandatory, minimum period of incarceration is ten days. Penalties increase substantially for those charged with a second, third or fourth offense of DUI. A third conviction for DUI within ten years is a Class 6 felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia under §18.2-270 of the Code of Virginia. For additional information on Virginia DUI and DWI penalties, please read:
Penalties for Repeat Offenders With DUI Convictions in Virginia
In Virginia, the penalties assigned to a driver convicted with a DUI/DWI will vary based on the circumstances of the conviction and history of prior DUI/DWI convictions. Any driver who is found guilty of more than one DUI charge within a certain time limitation will face more severe punishments. If a person has been found guilty of three DUI's, then he or she will receive harsher penalties than another person who only breached the law with two DUI's. DUI charges may be treated as a felony upon the third conviction. Felony charges will be marked on the individual's' permanent record as criminal charges. Additionally, felony charges can lead to the personal automobile of the perpetrator being seized by or even forfeited to the court. For specific information on second and third DUI/DWI convictions, please see:
Manslaughter Charges and Penalties in Virginia
If a victim dies because of a thoughtless drunk driver's DUI, the violating driver can be legally charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter crimes. Such a felony could cause the accused to lose his or her driver's license indefinitely, to have the personal vehicle forfeited or seized, or to spend as long as 20 years in jail. For more information on felony DUI/DWI charges, please review:
DWI and DUI Strategies for Defense in Virginia
Should you find yourself charged with a repeat or first time DUI in the state of Virginia, you need to contact and work with a reliable and reputable DUI defense lawyer. This is for your own good. An experienced lawyer can possibly reduce the severity of the penalty of the DUI charge, or perhaps even get the DWI or DUI charge completely dropped. You will need a sound legal defensive strategy in order to successfully escape from a DWI/DUI conviction in Virginia. Our firm possesses extensive experience in successfully defending clients from DWI and DUI charges in Virginia courts.
Contact Attorney Wilfred Yeargan for a Consultation
If you have been charged with a repeat or first-time DWI/DUI in Virginia, the time to contact The Law Office Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan is now. Contact us online or call directly and schedule your initial consultation now. Our firm delivers both the knowledge you need and the experience you count on in this difficult period of your life. We are more than capable of providing you with the fair representation and quality legal advice that you require to be certain that your full legal rights are protected during every stage of the legal process.