If you have been charged with DUI or DWI in Virginia, you may face severe legal penalties. These penalties include fines, court costs, probation, loss of driving privileges, ignition interlock installation, and even imprisonment. In addition to these, you may experience personal consequences like difficulty finding employment or education opportunities and social stigma due to having a criminal record. To reduce or avoid the impact of an alcohol-related conviction, it's recommended that you consult a Virginia DUI lawyer with the expertise and experience to help you fight your charge.
Understanding Your Legal Rights During a DUI Stop in Virginia
Regrettably, a significant number of individuals are not familiar with their legal rights concerning driving under the influence (DUI) charges. Many DUI arrests occur during routine traffic stops for minor infractions.
In other instances, the individual accused of a DUI offense may not have been driving but is still capable of operating the vehicle. In Northern Virginia, if you are pulled over, you are not obligated to answer inquiries regarding your activities or location preceding the stop.
Additionally, you are not required to participate in any field sobriety tests, which law enforcement officers may request you to perform. While providing your identification and insurance information, avoid making statements that could incriminate you or prompt the officer to initiate a DUI investigation.
Marijuana and Prescription Drug Impairment while Driving in Virginia
Furthermore, Virginia differs from its adjacent regions of Maryland and DC by not having decriminalized marijuana. This implies that if an individual is charged while driving under the influence of marijuana, they may face additional charges for possession of the drug. Moreover, if someone is operating a vehicle while impaired by legally prescribed drugs, they may still encounter charges.
Right to Refuse a Preliminary Breath Test in Virginia
In accordance with the Commonwealth's implied consent laws, all drivers are considered to have granted consent for a breath or blood test if a police officer stops them on suspicion of driving under the influence. Nevertheless, if an officer requests that you take a preliminary breath test (PBT), you retain the right to refuse. However, declining to take the PBT may result in administrative penalties against your driver's license.
First Offense DUI
Offenders of DUI in Virginia may face a prison sentence of up to 12 months and a fine ranging from $250 to $2,500. If their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) falls between 0.15 to 0.19, a minimum of five days in jail is obligatory. Furthermore, if the individual's BAC reaches or exceeds .20, the mandatory minimum jail time increases to 10 days.
A second DUI conviction in Virginia within five years may lead to imprisonment for one month to one year and a fine ranging from $500 to $2,500. Furthermore, there is an enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail.
If a person is convicted of a second DUI offense within 10 years, they will receive the same base penalty but an additional enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. Those who have two DUI convictions within 10 years and a BAC between 0.15 to 0.19 percent will face an additional penalty of 10 mandatory minimum days in jail. Additionally, if the BAC is .20 or higher, there is an additional penalty of a 20-day mandatory minimum sentence.
Third DUI Offense
A third DUI conviction within 10 years in Virginia is considered a Class 6 felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days. The offender may face imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of $1,000. However, the judge or jury trying the case may choose a lesser penalty of 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500.
If a person has three DUI convictions within five years, they will face a mandatory minimum jail term of six months. In this case, the individual may be sentenced to imprisonment for one to five years and a $1,000 fine.
Alternatively, the judge or jury may opt for a lesser term of six to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 to $2,500 fine. Those with more than three prior DUI convictions may face a Class 6 felony charge with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. This implies that the offender may still be sentenced to imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of $1,000.
The Impact of DUI Charges on Probation Status in Virginia
Being charged with a DUI offense while on probation in Virginia can have an impact on one's probation status, either before or after the case is resolved. It is crucial for anyone facing an additional charge to comprehend how it could affect their probation or parole status and seek appropriate representation.
Impact of Prior Involuntary Manslaughter Convictions on DUI Charges in Virginia
Individuals with previous convictions for involuntary manslaughter caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in Virginia face a Class 6 felony charge for every subsequent DUI offense. The offender is subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a one-year mandatory minimum sentence. The prison sentence and fine range remain the same as the previous Class 6 felony charge.
DUI Felony Offense in Virginia
In Virginia, a DUI conviction may lead to the seizure and forfeiture of the driver's vehicle. Additionally, certain DUI offenses may carry extra penalties, which may include but are not limited to:
A first DUI conviction in Virginia results in the following penalties:
- One-year license suspension;
- Completion of the Alcohol Safety Action Program; and
- Requirement of an ignition interlock device to reinstate their license if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured above 0.15 percent.
A second DUI conviction in Virginia results in the following penalties:
- Three-year license suspension;
- Completion of the Alcohol Safety Action Program; and
- Requirement of an ignition interlock device for license reinstatement.
A third DUI conviction in Virginia results in the following penalties:
- Indefinite license suspension, although the offender may request the court to reinstate their license after five years have passed; and
- Requirement of an ignition interlock device if their license is reinstated.
If you contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in Northern Virginia, they can assist you throughout the process of being charged with driving under the influence. They can also inform you about how various factors, such as seeking medical attention after an arrest, may significantly affect your case.
Call the Law Offices of Clinton O. Middleton at 703-777-9630 for a free consultation regarding your serious traffic offense.