In Virginia, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to drive under the influence or while intoxicated and can include significant punishments that can derail your life, family, or profession. § 18.2-266.
If convicted of a DUI/DWI, you can be punished with up to one year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, 12-36 months of a suspended license to operate a motor vehicle, mandatory alcohol education classes, and probation. This can also include mandatory jail time if an individual’s blood alcohol content is above 0.15 or higher.
Additionally, second or subsequent DUI/DWI arrests and convictions can carry mandatory time in jail. A third offense for a DUI/DWI will result in a felony conviction and revocation of your driving privileges. § 18.2-270.
The table below outlines the various punishments that can be imposed for a DWI/DUI conviction depending on the severity of the offense.
Up to 12 months
10 days to 12 months
90 days to 5 years
$250 to $2,500
$500 to $2,500
$1,000 to $2,500
Ignition Interlock Device
6-month minimum as a condition of obtaining a “restricted license”
As seen in the table, DWI/DUI penalties in Virginia are taken seriously and can have long-lasting consequences. It is critical to seek the guidance of a skilled DUI attorney who can provide effective strategies for minimizing penalties and defending your rights.
Implied Consent and Refusal
Virginia also has strict “implied consent” laws, generally known as “refusal” charges, which require motorists to submit to a blood or breath test to establish blood alcohol content. § 18.2-268.2.
A refusal to submit to the test can result in a license suspension for one to three years, depending on whether it is the first or subsequent conviction. As a condition of a conviction of refusing to take a breath test to establish blood alcohol, an individual is not eligible for a restricted driver’s license.
Defense Strategies for a VA DUI Charge
Navigating the complexities of a DUI charge in Virginia can be daunting. A strong legal defense, however, can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here are some key strategies commonly employed to combat DUI charges in Virginia.
Law enforcement officers must have a valid reason to stop a vehicle. If there was no legitimate cause for the traffic stop, the evidence gathered during the stop may be ruled inadmissible, including the results of field sobriety tests.
Questioning the Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are not always accurate; many factors can affect the results. These might include physical impairments, weather conditions, or even the officer’s interpretation of the test. A successful challenge of the field sobriety test results can lead to a dismissal of the DUI charge.
Disputing the Breathalyzer Test Results
Breathalyzer machines require regular maintenance and calibration to ensure accurate results. If the device was not properly maintained, the breath test results might be deemed unreliable, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of the DUI charge.
Highlighting Violations of Rights
If your rights were violated at any point during the arrest process, this could play a significant role in your DUI defense. This might include instances where law enforcement officers failed to read your rights or did not have probable cause for arrest.
Legal Representation for DUI IN Virginia
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Virginia carries significant consequences, including a permanent criminal record. It is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.
At Ashwell & Ashwell PLLC, our team has decades of experience handling DUI cases in Virginia and can provide the expert guidance and aggressive defense you need. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and understand your legal options. Don’t let a DUI charge derail your life – let us help you fight for justice.