Frequently Asked Questions regarding DUIs in Virginia
You have been charged with “driving under the influence” in Virginia. Here are a few answers you might find helpful:
Do I need to hire an attorney if I am charged with driving under the influence (sometimes called “DUI” or “DWI”)?
While every case is unique, you are well-advised to at least consult with experienced legal counsel to determine whether you should be represented at trial. At that meeting, you would ask questions and receive advice on such topics as penalties under current Virginia law, possible defenses available and potential consequences of a conviction.
What is the current punishment for DUI, 1st offense, in Virginia?
A fine of up to $2,500 plus Court costs; a minimum fine of $250; operator’s license suspended for 12 months; mandatory enrollment in ASAP (Virginia’s “Alcohol Safety Action Program”); and eligibility for a restricted operator’s license on terms and conditions set by the Court as well as a mandatory requirement to install an “ignition interlock”* device on your car for a minimum of six (6) months. (* An ignition interlock system is a device that connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to an analyzer that measures a driver’s blood alcohol content, prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC exceeds 0.025 percent and is able to perform a rolling retest and electronically log the BAC during ignition, attempted ignition and rolling retest.)
Suppose my blood or breath alcohol (“BAC”) level is less than .08?
While there is a rebuttable presumption that someone operating a motor vehicle in Virginia is driving “under the influence” if his or her BAC is .08 or greater, one may nevertheless be convicted under certain circumstances with a BAC that is less than .08. You should consult competent legal counsel for further details.
What if I am arrested for DUI for the first time but my BAC is “high” (that is, .15 or above)?
Under current Virginia law, a conviction of DUI with a “high” BAC carries mandatory jail sentences, in addition to all the other penalties discussed above.
For instance, if the BAC is .15 to .20, inclusive, the mandatory minimum jail sentence for DUI, 1st offense, is five days and, if the BAC is .21 or higher, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is 10 days.
(Source: §§18.2-270- 271, Code of Virginia (1950), as amended.)