Drunk driving offenses are aggressively prosecuted in the commonwealth of Virginia. Even a first-time offense can result in harsh financial penalties, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time, as well as several other negative consequences. If you have made a bad decision which resulted in a DUI arrest, don’t compound your error by neglecting to secure knowledgeable and skilled legal representation. Those who speak to an experienced Virginia DUI attorney as soon as possible have a much higher likelihood of a successful outcome in their case.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits
Virginia refers to drunk driving as DUI or driving under the influence, and measures DUI by blood alcohol concentration (BAC.) In the commonwealth of Virginia, the blood alcohol content limits for a person twenty-one years or older is .08%. If you are younger than 21, the legal limit is .02%. For commercial drivers the BAC limit is .04%. In addition to DUI charges, you can also be charged with other alcohol related crimes including:
- Misrepresenting your age (using a fake ID)
- Possessing alcohol on school property
- Buying alcohol for someone under the age of 21
If you are younger than 21 years old and purchase, possess, or consume alcohol (above the legal limit of a 0.02% BAC), you face the following consequences:
- License suspension for up to 1 year from your conviction date.
- Minimum $500 fine, or minimum 50 hours of community service.
- Possible Alcohol Safety Action Program.
- Possible restricted driver’s license
Virginia DUI penalties for drivers 21 years or older vary depending on whether this is a first offense or if you’ve had previous DUI convictions. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI offense in the past, the court will consider the number of convictions, the time period in which they occurred, and the BAC at the time of arrest. A first DUI offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and punishment will include the following:
- Administrative license suspension for 7 days
- $250 – $2500 fine
- Up to 12 months in jail
- License revocation for 1 year
- Court-ordered restitution (if applicable)
- Possible Alcohol Safety Action Program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Possible restricted driver’s license
Subsequent DUI convictions will include all first offense penalties outlined above, but may also include additional mandatory jail time, significantly higher fines, and longer license suspensions or revocation, and may also include felony charges with seizure and forfeiture of your vehicle. An extremely high BAC of .15% or above, or driving under the influence with a minor in the car will automatically incur additional jail time.
Should You Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Many people believe that by taking a Breathalyzer test you have willingly provided the state with evidence to use against you at trial. While this is essentially true, Virginia operates under the implied consent law. This means that if you refuse to take a chemical test, blood or breathalyzer, after you have been arrested, you will be charged with Refusal in Virginia and you could be subject to an automatic license suspension.
The Implied Consent law in Virginia states that any Virginia driver, regardless of which state he or she is licensed in, impliedly consents to a Breathalyzer or blood test just by driving on a Virginia highway. The Implied Consent law in Virginia applies after a driver has been arrested and the arrest must occur within 3 hours of the alleged offense.
Call & Speak to an Experienced Virginia DUI Defense Attorney
Being charged with DUI is a serious offense that carries harsh penalties that can affect your freedom and your bank account. Additionally, a DUI conviction may impact your ability to find a job or maintain employment, especially if a clean driving record or the absence of a criminal record is a job requirement. You can expect your car insurance rate to increase, or you may even be dropped by your insurer or have difficulty obtaining auto insurance coverage.
If you’re looking for a law firm that will fight for your rights throughout the DUI criminal process, contact Melone Law P.C. Our attorneys have successfully represented individuals throughout Virginia who have been arrested and charged with a DUI. Contact us today at 703.995.9900 to discuss your case.