DUI refers to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but it is most known as drunk driving. DUI is also classified the same as DWI (driving while intoxicated). In Virginia, you are deemed as driving under the influence if you are driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

If you are pulled over, and your blood alcohol concentration is tested, you will be arrested for DUI if:

  • You are 21 years old or above with a BAC of 0.08%
  • You are below 21 years old with a BAC of 0.02%
  • You are a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04%
  • You are caught with a blood concentration of 0.1 milligrams per liter or more of methamphetamine or 0.2 mg/l or more of cocaine or phencyclidine (PCP)

In general, a person is deemed as “under the influence” if the driver’s ability to drive or operate a vehicle is impaired. The “zero-tolerance law” in Virginia makes it unlawful for drivers below 21 years old to drive cars if they have a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

You can also get a DUI in Virginia even if you are not driving or when the car is stationary if you are in “actual physical control” of the vehicle, and your BAC is within the scope prohibited by law. A person is deemed in “actual physical control” if the driver is seated behind the steering wheel while the keys are in the ignition.

A DUI/DWI is deemed as a class 1 misdemeanor that has potential penalties of a fine up to $2,500, prison time of up to 1 year, and a license suspension of up to also one year. These penalties are only for a first offense DUI, and harsher or aggravated penalties wait for repeat offenders.

Breath Test and Blood-Test

DUI in VirginiaVirginia has an “implied consent” law that mandates all drivers that are legally arrested to submitting a breath or blood test. Refusing to submit such requirements is subject to a license suspension of 1 year for the first offense and three years license suspension and a Class 2 misdemeanor for the second and 3-years license suspension and a Class 1 misdemeanor third and subsequent offenses. Prior DUI refusal convictions within the past ten years are counted in determining the second and third refusals.

Plea bargaining in DUI cases

A DUI case dismissal is highly unlikely in typical scenarios due to the prosecution, but in some cases, a reduction of the charge to “wet reckless” is possible. A wet reckless is the same as reckless driving that involves drugs or alcohol, and it has the same penalties as a usual reckless driving conviction. Still, before being allowed in probation, the court may require the motorist to finish an “alcohol safety action program.”

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

If you are convicted of a DUI charge, the court and the VA DMV will require you to set up an IID as a part of your restricted driving privileges. An IID is an instrument that acts like a breath control test. The driver will need to blow in the device, and if the device considers that the BAC level is above the threshold, the vehicle will not start.

Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP)

Driving laws require anyone charged with a DUI offense to take an ASAP. ASAP is the VA’s DUI program, where the offender will receive a screening and probationary oversight for license reinstatement. ASAP will determine if education, intervention, and treatment programs are needed.

DUI Penalties in Virginia

Penalties in Virginia for DUI cases depend on the circumstances of the motorist, such as prior convictions and the amount of BAC during the offense. The possible punishments are:

For the first offense:

  • License revocation of 1 year
  • Jail time of up to 1 year
  • Fine of $250 to $2,500
  • Potential Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP)
  • Potential IID requirement for a restricted license
  • Criminal record

For the second offense:

  • License revocation of 3 years
  • Jail time of 10 days to 1 year
  • Fine of $500 to $2,500
  • IID requirement
  • Criminal record

For third offense:

  • Indefinite license suspension
  • Jail time of 3 months to 5 years
  • Fine of $1,000 to $2,500
  • IID requirement
  • Criminal record

When to Hire a DUI Lawyer

DUI arrests result to court appearances and while you can appear in court without counsel or legal representation, having one would be highly beneficial for you for convictions of DUI charges will result in catastrophic damages for a criminal record will stay on your driving record and you are looking at fines, license suspension, and even prison time. For your protection, we, at the Fisher Law Firm are more than happy to help. We know that every case is unique, and our experienced DUI attorneys will tailor a DUI defense specific to your needs as well as open all the possible actions you might take. Call us now for a free legal consultation.