Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

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Virginia DWI and DUI Laws and Penalties

Virginia DWI and DUI laws are covered by Virginia Code § 18.2-266. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is used interchangeably in Virginia. It is illegal for anyone to operate any motor vehicle, engine, or train with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.

It may also be illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC under .08 if the individual is under the influence, but there is a presumption of intoxication at .08 or higher, so it is the most commonly used line for intoxication.  It is also illegal to operate any motor vehicle, engine or train under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant.

What happens if you refuse to take a breathalyzer?

You have a right to refuse the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Law enforement conducts the PBT roadside, as part of the initial Field Sobriety Tests. These tests also often include the heel-to-toe walk and turn, holding one leg slightly off the ground, and the Nystagmus vision test, among others. Law enforcement uses these Field Sobriety Tests to establish probable cause for an arrest. You are under no obligation to take the PBT and your refusal should not be used against you.

Once you are arrested and taken to the police station after an arrest and asked to submit to a brethalyzer, then refusing to take the test could lead to a criminal charge under Va. Code § 18.2-268.3. The first refusal of a breath test is a civil punishment leading to license suspension for a year. A second refusal is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of jail up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

The breath tests have specific technical and legal requirements, and a qualified lawyer can evaluate those and see if there are any defenses available in your case.

What are the penalties for DUI 1st?

DUI/DWI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in Jail, and a maximum $2,500 fine.

  • A first offense carries a mandatory minimum $250 fine, but no mandatory jail time for a BAC below .15.
  • Driver’s license revoked for one year;
  • If BAC is 0.15% but not higher than 0.20%, mandatory, minimum 5-day jail term in addition to all other penalties; and
  • If BAC is higher than 0.20%, mandatory, minimum 10-day jail term in addition to all other penalties.

What are the penalties for DUI 2nd?

  • DUI/DWI Second Offense is also a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in Jail and a $2,500 fine.
  • Mandatory minimum $500 fine;
  • Driver’s license revoked for three years;
  • Punishment of jail up to 1 year;
  • If second offense within ten years and BAC is 0.15% but not higher than 0.20%, mandatory, minimum 10-day jail term in addition to all other penalties;
  • If second offense within ten years and BAC is higher than 0.20%, mandatory, minimum 20-day jail term in addition to all other penalties; and
  • If second offense within five years of first offense, mandatory, minimum 20-day jail term.

What are the penalties for DUI 3rd?

  • A Third Offense DUI/DWI is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Mandatory, minimum $1,000 fine;
  • Mandatory indefinite driver’s license revocation;
  • If within five years, mandatory minimum 6-month jail term; and
  • If within 10 years, mandatory minimum 90-day jail term.

Other DUI/DWI Offenses

A Fourth Offense DUI/DWI is a Felony with a mandatory minimum $1000 fine and 1 year imprisonment.

DUI/DWI while transporting a minor carries a mandatory ‘additional’ fine of $500-$1000, and a mandatory minimum 5 day jail sentence.

For any Felony DUI/DWI the vehicle itself become subject to forfeiture.

Collateral Issues from a DUI/DWI

In addition to the penalties provided above, there are various collateral consequences associated with a Virginia driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated criminal conviction.  The DMV may assess points on your license and your insurance company may later increase your insurance premium.  Likewise, immigration consequences, employment considerations, and licensing restrictions may also pose a problem.

Contact Our Experienced DUI/DWI Atttorneys for a Free Consultation

Contact the office today to consult with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney if you are suspected of a driving while intoxicated offense.