No matter which way you slice it, a DUI is a serious offense. It’s not just some traffic ticket you can blow off; it’s a criminal offense that can land you in a world of trouble. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Virginia, you need to act immediately to save your license and your freedom.
Your first step should be to contact a Virginia DUI lawyer. Drunk driving laws are highly complex, and not every lawyer is intimately familiar with them. Make sure the attorney you choose has a successful track record in Virginia DUI cases.
But hiring a lawyer doesn’t give you an excuse to take a hands-off approach to your case. Remember, it’s your freedom that’s on the line. Show your commitment to your case by spending time familiarizing yourself with Virginia DUI laws. By reading the overview below, you’ll be armed with the information you need to make the proper decisions regarding your defense.
Virginia DUI Basics
DUI cases may be tried under 2 different theories. The first theory is dependent upon BAC tests. This is known as per se DUI laws. This means that anyone whose BAC is above .08% while driving will be arrested for a DUI. This seems like a black and white way of determining one’s guilt. The problem is there’s a grey area. See, BAC tests aren’t always accurate. Outside factors can skew the results, leading to some individuals being wrongly arrested for drinking and driving.
The other method of prosecuting DUI cases is based on the traditional way of proving impairment. In these cases, a suspect doesn’t need to exceed the legal BAC to be arrested for a DUI. Instead, an officer may prove the individual is under the influence by examining his or her driving patterns, performance on roadside sobriety tests, and general behavior during the traffic stop. Clearly, this evidence is highly subjective as it’s based on one officer’s opinion. For this reason, the DUI lawyer you hire needs to call this evidence into doubt.
You should also know that Virginia has implied consent laws. According to these laws, all licensed drivers have given the state their consent to have their BAC tested whenever an officer feels it’s necessary. Should you refuse a BAC test, your license will be taken away immediately and your penalties can be enhanced.
Virginia DUI Penalties
Of course, anyone arrested for a DUI is bound to be curious as to the penalties awaiting them. While every case is different, the guidelines for Virginia DUI penalties are as follows:
If this is your first DUI offense, your penalties include a minimum $250 fine, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and up to one year in jail.
If this is your second DUI conviction, the penalties are as follows: minimum fine of $500, up to one year in jail, community service, installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicles, and a license suspension of 3 years.
On your third DUI offense, the penalties are even harsher. They include an indefinite license suspension, minimum fines of $1000, possible forfeiture of the vehicle, and a lengthy stint behind bars.
Other factors that may enhance your penalty include refusal to submit to a BAC test, an excessive BAC, and/or driving with a minor at the time of your DUI arrest.