State and local police stop most Virginia drivers at some point during their lives. Although common, traffic offenses can be very serious when they fall within in the DUI/DWI category. The Law Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan is highly experienced in defending drivers charged with DUI/DWI offenses in Virginia. Wilfred Yeargan, attorney-at-law will fight to protect your rights during all legal proceedings.
If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI in Virginia, it is beneficial to understand some of Virginia's legal guidelines. Continue reading to learn more about Virginia DUI/DWI laws. A first conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant or while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) in the Commonwealth of Virginia is nothing for drivers to take lightly. The conviction will be logged in a permanent criminal record. Immediate penalties may include high fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. In the long-term future, being convicted of a DUI/DWI may affect the driver's ability to obtain credit, get a security clearance, or even qualify for certain jobs.
First Offense Penalties
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a first DUI/DWI offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code Section (§) 18.2-270, which outlines the penalties of up to a year in jail and as much as a $2,500 fine with a mandatory $250 minimum. Additional penalties vary according to the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the offense.
If the BAC is between 15/1000 (.15 percent) and 20/1000 (.20 percent), the sentence must order at least five days of jail time. If higher than .20, there must be an additional 10 days. If less than .15, there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence; however, if there is a history of DUI/DWI violations or if the offense causes a collision, particularly when another person is injured, the penalties will likely be much more severe.
Loss of Driving Privileges
Virginia Code § 18.2-271 requires a one-year driver's license suspension for a first DUI/DWI conviction in addition to any administrative suspension for excessive BAC breath test results or for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test. If permitted by the court, some drivers may retain restricted driving privileges that allow them to commute to and from certain essential locations, such as their place of employment. In many cases, drivers convicted of a DUI/DWI offense will be required to outfit their vehicle with ignition interlock devices to measure BAC when they enter their vehicles, which will not start if their BAC is above .02.
Alcohol Education Program
A DUI/DWI conviction may also require participation in an alcohol safety action program unless the sentencing court expressly orders otherwise. Program participants are responsible for paying any and all entry fees.
Drivers must notify their insurance companies of their DUI/DWI convictions by completing Department of Motor Vehicles Form FR-44 for financial responsibility certification of high-risk insurance classification, which requires certain minimum property damage and bodily injury/death limits for resumption of normal driving. A convicted driver who fails to file an FR-44 form may not regain legal driving privileges.
Reducing or Dismissing Charges
Drivers charged for the first time with DUI/DWI in Virginia should not move forward into court proceedings without legal representation. Penalties and fines increase with the gravity of the violation. A talented legal professional will do their best to represent you, and move for dismissal of the charges if a valid reasons exists. If conviction proves to be inevitable, your lawyer will work to have charges reduced, or punishments lessened in severity. In some cases, there may be good legal reasons for full dismissal of all DUI/DWI charges, such as unlawful traffic stops or prohibited search and seizure of evidence following a stop. However, every case will have different determining factors.
Always Seek Legal Counsel
A first time DUI/DWI conviction is always a serious matter with much at stake. Defending against criminal charges is not for the inexperienced or the unskilled. Skilled and experienced DUI/DWI attorneys sometimes succeed in persuading prosecutors to permit pretrial diversion into education or rehabilitation programs for eventual dismissal of the case after successful completion. The Law Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan has extensive experience defending against DUI/DWI charges in court aggressively and effectively in order to obtain the best results possible.
Contact Us Today
For any individual charged with a DUI/DWI in Virginia, there is no substitute for the advice and advocacy of professional legal counsel. Clients feel comfortable and even confident entrusting their cases to our firm because of its strategic approach to legal problems. A well-planned, well-executed defense can mean the difference between a minor (or no) penalty and one with disastrous repercussions. To learn more about how The Law Office of Wilfred Ward Yeargan can help, send us a message online or call us directly to schedule an initial consultation.