How Will a DUI Case Be Handled in Virginia?
May 16, 2022
It is not that difficult to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia. In 2020, more than 17,000 people were charged with DUI in this state. If you’re charged with DUI in or near the Suffolk area, you must be advised and represented by a Suffolk DUI attorney.
What constitutes driving under the influence in Virginia? What are your legal rights and options if you’re facing a DUI charge in this state, and what steps will you need to take? If you’ll keep reading, these questions about DUI, the law, and your rights in Virginia will be answered below.
What follows is a brief introduction to the DUI legal process in Virginia. You will learn what the penalties are for driving under the influence, and you will learn about the separate administrative procedure that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles initiates against DUI defendants.
What Can Happen If You’re Convicted in Virginia of DUI?
If it’s your first DUI offense, you will face a Class One misdemeanor DUI charge in the Virginia criminal courts. A DUI arrest in this state may lead to a criminal conviction, a costly fine, an extended probation term, or even a jail sentence.
Those are the legal consequences, but a driving under the influence conviction also has extra-legal consequences. A criminal conviction for driving under the influence may impact your employment, especially if driving is your work or a part of your work, and raise your auto insurance rates.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a DUI conviction could lead to a deportation proceeding. If you have a professional license in this state, a criminal conviction for driving under the influence in Virginia may compel your professional licensing board to take disciplinary action.
How Is DUI Defined and Handled in Virginia?
A driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level measures at or above 0.08 percent is considered too intoxicated to drive safely. The law in Virginia is even harsher on motorists below age 21. Drivers under the age of 21 may be convicted of DUI with a BAC level of 0.02 percent.
When you are placed under arrest for driving under the influence in Virginia, your arrest triggers two different legal procedures. You’ll face an administrative license suspension and a separate, criminal DUI proceeding. You will need the help of a Suffolk DUI lawyer in both cases.
What Are Administrative License Suspensions?
If you are placed under arrest for your first driving under the influence offense – or for refusing to take a breathalyzer test – your license is suspended “administratively” by the Virginia DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for seven days.
This suspension is separate and distinct from the criminal DUI proceeding and from any penalties that may be imposed by the court. For a subsequent DUI arrest or refusal to take a breath test, your license is suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a period of sixty days or until your trial.
A Virginia DUI defense lawyer can help you fight a suspension of your driver’s license by the Virginia DMV, but you must contact that lawyer as quickly as possible after a DUI arrest.
If a criminal court in Virginia convicts you of driving under the influence, any driver’s license suspension or revocation that is ordered by the court will be added to the administrative driver’s license suspension.
What Penalties May Be Imposed for a DUI Conviction?
A first conviction for DUI in Virginia is usually penalized with a fine and a revocation of the offender’s driver’s license for one year. An ignition interlock device or “IID” also must be placed in the convicted offender’s own vehicle after the driver’s license revocation is lifted.
A second driving under the influence conviction in Virginia is usually penalized with a mandatory fine, a three-year revocation of the driver’s license, and possibly a jail term. A second conviction within ten years of the first is punished with a mandatory jail sentence.
For drivers with a BAC level that measured at or over 0.15 percent at the time of the arrest, a conviction usually means a mandatory jail sentence, even for the first offense.
What Else Should You Know About Virginia’s DUI Laws?
If a passenger who is 17 years old or younger is in your vehicle when you’re placed under arrest for driving under the influence, it is an aggravating circumstance.
If you are convicted of DUI, that aggravating circumstance will add five days in jail and an additional fine to all of the other sentences and fines.
Finally, after a DUI conviction in this state, you will be ordered to participate in VASAP – the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program – which is two hours of classes a week for ten weeks. VASAP must be completed before your driver’s license will be restored by the DMV.
How Will a Virginia DUI Attorney Defend You?
Don’t even think about acting as your own lawyer. Both the law and the science involved in DUI cases are exceedingly complicated, so your DUI lawyer must have extensive knowledge of Virginia DUI law and substantial experience representing defendants who are charged with DUI.
The precise legal strategy that your DUI attorney develops on your behalf will hinge on the particulars of your case. A Suffolk DUI lawyer may challenge the breathalyzer test results or the qualifications of the individual who conducted the test.
Your lawyer might also challenge the constitutionality of the traffic stop that led to your arrest. If the police violated your rights during a traffic stop, an interrogation, a search, or an arrest, and if your lawyer can prove it, it is possible that the DUI charge against you could be dismissed.
What Is The Best Advice About Drinking And Driving?
The realities of a DUI conviction in Virginia can be devastating. If you intend to drink with friends, leave your vehicle at home. Hire a limo, a taxi, a rideshare service like Uber, or find a trustworthy designated driver.
If you drink and drive, you risk a collision, a severe injury, an arrest, and a criminal conviction, and that’s if you’re lucky. Driving under the influence is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in Virginia and across the nation. Do not place yourself and others in that kind of danger.
The best advice about driving under the influence is not even legal advice – it’s merely common sense: Don’t Drink and Drive.
Virginia aggressively enforces the laws against driving under the influence. If you are charged with driving under the influence in or near the Suffolk area, you must be represented by a Suffolk DUI attorney, and you must contact that attorney as quickly as possible after the arrest.
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