DUI Penalties and Consequences
In Virginia, the DUI statute is found in § 18.2-266 of the Code of Virginia. The statute expressly prohibits driving a motor vehicle under the following circumstances:
(1) While any amount of alcohol is present in your blood or breath;
(2) After having consumed enough alcoholic beverage to produce a blood or breath alcohol concentration (or both) of .08 percent or more;
(3) While you are under the influence of either diazepine, barbiturate, or narcotic drug.
Here are some penalties and DUI consequences that could be imposed on a person convicted of an offense against Virginia’s DUI statute:
1. Jail or Prison Time
Every person convicted of DUI in Virginia is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This means that the sentence of imprisonment can be anywhere from 30 days in jail to 12 months in prison. In addition, a judge can impose a fine of up to $2500 or both.
2. Mandatory Alcohol Screening
In addition to the criminal penalties, a person convicted of DUI in Virginia must also undergo mandatory alcohol testing by a court-approved and certified lab. The BAC test results will be used as evidence to support any civil penalties or fines imposed on the offender. These penalties can include mandatory attendance at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or group; completion of an Alcoholics Anonymous program; payment of court costs; or any other civil sanction imposed by the court for causing damage or injury to others in motor vehicle accidents after having been convicted of DUI-related traffic offenses in Virginia.
3. Suspension of Driver’s License
Under the Virginia DUI law, a person convicted of DUI for the first time must have their license suspended for at least 12 months.
The Virginia DMV will notify you immediately if you are convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia. Your driver’s license is automatically suspended even while you appeal that conviction. Driving a vehicle during this time is unlawful without applying for a restricted driver’s license through the court or DMV directly.
4. Fines and Costs
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia will be responsible for paying fines, costs, and any other civil penalties imposed by the court. The minimum cost a person convicted of DUI in Virginia must pay is $300.
5. Alcohol Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment Program
All persons convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia must undergo an evaluation at an alcohol substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. However, a person can request a waiver from this requirement if the court finds such an evaluation would be inappropriate or unnecessary under the circumstances. In any case, you are responsible for paying all costs associated with this evaluation program regardless of whether or not it was ordered by the court or required by law. In addition, you will be expected to complete all treatment, counseling, or educational requirements associated with your treatment plan before you can regain your license from the DMV.
6. Community Service and Probation
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia may be required to perform a term of supervised probation and submit to warrantless searches and seizures during this probation period. In addition, a person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia will be required to attend community service hours as assigned by the court. The court may also reserve the right to impose alternative penalties such as house arrest, electronic monitoring, or a curfew during this period as deemed appropriate by the court.
7. License Suspension or Revocation
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia may have their license suspended or revoked by the court as part of the sentencing process. Although this is a discretionary power of the judge, a person found guilty of a DUI and whose license has been revoked will be required to undergo an evaluation for alcohol and substance abuse problems before their license can be reinstated.
8. Ignition Interlock Device
People convicted of an offense against Virginia’s DUI law must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. This device prevents the vehicle from starting when you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .02%.
9. Restricted Driver’s License
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia must apply for a restricted driver’s license through either the DMV or by filing a petition with the court directly. If you receive a restricted license, your driving privileges are limited in some manner (i.e., fewer hours per day depending on whether or not you have a job).
10. Insurance Consequences
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia will have their insurance rates increased by an average of $500 to $1000 per year. This is because you are at a higher risk of causing an accident.
11. Disqualification from Public Office
Under the Virginia DUI law, you will be disqualified from running for a public office or voting in any election held in Virginia. This is a mandatory punishment imposed by law, and there are no defenses to this sentence. In some cases, you may be required by the court to pay a fine of $100 which will go towards this restitution.
12. Community Service
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia must complete community service hours as part of their sentence. This community service is often assigned in working with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and others to raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence. In addition, in some cases, the court may require you to pay a fine of up to $100, which will go towards this restitution.
13. Mandatory vehicle impoundment or immobilization
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia may have their vehicle impounded for up to 5 days, depending on whether or not they refused to submit to a chemical test for alcohol.
As you can see, a DUI conviction in Virginia is severe and will have lasting consequences that range from fines to jail time, home confinement, and more. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you will have a permanent record for life. Therefore, you can best seek the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney in Virginia, such as David Deane, who can help protect your rights and ensure your voice is heard through the entire legal process.