As is the case in many other states, Virginia has tough laws designed to prevent drunk driving.
While most people would never intentionally drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the problem with Virginia’s DUI laws is that they often net people who may have just been a little careless and had one too many drinks.
After all, it’s hard to really know whether someone is over the limit of .08 BAC, and a lot of drunk driving and drugged driving charges are based on the opinion of the arresting police officer. In some cases, people even wind up convicted on charges that really should have been dismissed.
First offense DUI
A first offense DUI, even without any aggravating circumstances, will result in a $250 fine and, more importantly, a license revocation for one year. Additionally, a person will have to get an evaluation and participate in treatment at their personal expense.
It is important to remember that this over and above any other license suspensions.
For instance, if a person is also accused of refusing to take a blood or breath test, then they will serve up to 2 years on suspension, 1 year for the breath test refusal and 1 year for the conviction. Restricted licenses are not available during the time of the suspension for a breath or blood test refusal.
Even for a first time offense, Virginia imposes mandatory minimum jail terms for those who have particularly high BAC content when they are arrested. A person with higher than .15% BAC must serve 5 days, and someone with higher than .20% BAC must serve 10 days.
Repeat offenders face progressively more severe penalties. This is so even when there are no other aggravating circumstances, like an accident or a child in the vehicle.
Mandatory jail terms start for repeat offenses when they happen within the course of 10 years.
Likewise, a third DUI, no matter when the other two drunk driving offenses happened, will be charged as a felony and will result in a license revocation with no definite end date.
A third DUI within 10 years comes with a minimum 90 days in jail. Moreover, the police may seize and sell a person’s vehicle after a conviction. A third DUI within 5 years comes with a mandatory jail term of 6 months.
Further drunk driving convictions, which are all charged as felonies, come with a minimum of one year in jail or prison.
These laws apply equally to young people under 21. Of course, people who are underage shouldn’t be drinking at all. They may face additional penalties for underage drinking.
The point of all this information is that any drunk driving charge, no matter how seemingly minor, should be taken seriously. Those in the Fairfax area and surrounding Northern Virginia communities should carefully evaluate their legal options.