Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense in the state of Virginia. It is not a traffic infraction; it is a criminal matter, a class one misdemeanor.
DUI Lawyers analyze several factors when evaluating your case.
First, did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you If you passed through a sobriety checkpoint, was it a legal checkpoint?
Second, did the officer have probable cause to start a DUI investigation? If you were required to perform field sobriety tests, were they justified in the first place, properly explained and properly assessed?
Was the officer correctly trained to administer and evaluate the tests?
Was the officer justified in requiring you to submit to a preliminary breath test, and were the results accurate and reliable?
Was there sufficient probable cause to arrest you? If you took any blood alcohol tests at the police station, were the tests properly conducted on machines properly maintained by officers properly trained, and were the results accurate and reliable?
Under Virginia DUI laws, a first (1st) offense DUI charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, and $2,500 in fines. You will also face administrative penalties, including:
1. A mandatory alcohol program (Alcohol Safety Action Program, or ASAP)
2. Your driver’s license will be revoked/suspended for a year
3. You will have to get expensive, special auto insurance coverage, known as SR-22
Update: Under the new law, as of 7/1/12, all first offense DUI convictions will require an ignition interlock device as a condition of license reinstatement.
Other possible first offense DUI conviction penalties may include:
· If you blow a .15-.20 on a breath test machine (or from a chemical blood test), you will face a mandatory 5 days in jail, and will require an ignition interlock device when you regain your license.
· If your BAC registers a .21 or above on a breath test machine or chemical blood test, you will face a mandatory 10 days in jail, as well as the required ignition interlock device.
Second Offense DUI Charges & Penalties
For a Second offense DUI conviction within 10 years of the prior offense, you face penalties that include a mandatory 10 day jail sentence.
For a Second offense DUI conviction within 5 years of the prior offense, you face penalties that include a mandatory 20 day jail sentence.
Third Offense DUI Charges & Penalties
Any 3rd offense DUI charge will get you a minimum of 3 months in jail if you are found guilty.
For this reason, most people choose to fight the charges in court, almost automatically. There is generally little downside to fighting. If you lose, you probably won’t be any worse off than if you had plead guilty to a 3rd offense charge.
For a Third offense DUI conviction within 10 years of a prior offense, you face penalties that include a mandatory 3 month jail sentence.
For a Third offense DUI conviction within 5 years of a prior offense, you face penalties that include a mandatory 6 month jail sentence.
Under 21 DUI
If you are not of the legal drinking age, you cannot drive with any measurable alcohol in your bloodstream. This zero tolerance Virginia DUI policy means that you can be charged with drunk driving with anything over .02% BAC (the legal limit for adults is .08% Blood Alcohol Content)
As of 7/1/08, the penalties for blowing a .02% BAC or higher if you are driving and under the legal drinking age of 21 are:
· 1 year driver’s license suspension
· minimum $500 fine or 50 hours of community service