The Manassas Law Group, PC
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Manassas, VA 20110
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DUI vs. DWI
When you were pulled over by police in Virginia under suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated and an officer told you they were arresting you for a DUI, it was probably a traumatic, embarrassing and distressing event. But the citation you received said you were cited for a DWI. Wait a minute, you may wonder. Was I arrested for a DUI or a DWI? What’s the difference?
Simply, nothing at all.
In Virginia, the terms DUI and DWI are covered under the same statute § 18.2-266 and are used interchangeably. Whether you were drunk from consuming alcohol, had ingested, smoked, snorted, or injected illegal drugs, were impaired by a legally prescribed drug or even an over-the-counter drug, if your senses were affected to the degree that a police officer determined you could not safely operate a motor vehicle, you would be charged with the crime of DUI/DWI.
Specifically, the § 18.2-266 Virginia statute states:
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train (i) while such person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a chemical test administered as provided in this article, (ii) while such person is under the influence of alcohol, (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or (v) while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than: (a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood, (b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, (c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or (d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood. A charge alleging a violation of this section shall support a conviction under clauses (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v).
Because Virginia law enforcement and the court system doesn’t care what was impairing your senses while operating a motor vehicle, no distinction between DUI/DWI is made whether you were “driving under the influence” or “driving while intoxicated” including if you just took too much cough medicine. If you were charged under the DUI/DWI statute, as far as the police are concerned, you were endangering your life and the lives of others. In Virginia, there are severe penalties for DUI/DWI that vary depending upon your blood alcohol content (BAC), whether an accident was caused if anyone was injured, and if you have any previous DUI/DWI convictions.
As do all other states in our country, Virginia takes a hard line against DUI/DWI. According to Virginia alcohol-related motor vehicle statistics, in a recent year, there were 262 DUI/DWI caused fatalities, 4,855 serious injuries, and 7,482 vehicle crashes. https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/tss02.pdf
Our clients we have represented over the last 65 years typically are responsible, law-abiding citizens, who work and pay their taxes, & take care of their families. The consequences of a DUI/DWI conviction can be devastating not only to the offender but also their family. Depending upon several factors, a person convicted of a DUI will spend time in jail, lose their driving privileges, pay enormous fines, and possibly lose their job and reputation which may lead to financial problems including the loss of their home.
Because we at The Manassas Law Group believe Virginia DUI/DWI penalties are sometimes unfairly extreme and overly punitive depending upon the circumstances, we work vigilantly to either mitigate the damages of a conviction or have charges dismissed. If you are convicted and sentenced to incarceration, instead of jail we might be able to petition the court for house arrest or in-patient addiction treatment. In many cases, even if your driving privileges are suspended, we may be able to petition the court to allow you to drive to work, to doctor appointments, or for other specific responsibilities such as for the care of children.
Our attorneys at The Manassas Law Firm represent those charged with a first time DUI/DWI offenses as well as multiple offenses of this crime. Because the consequences upon conviction significantly increase with multiple DUI/DWI offenses, finding the right attorney to defend you in court can be the difference that makes or breaks your life over the next 10 - 40 years. Our attorneys know how to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and work towards dismissal, and when that’s not possible, vigorously negotiate reduced charges and less severe penalties.
For the best outcome when you’ve been charged with DUI/DWI, call the Manassas Law Group for a free review of your case, consultation, and advice. At all times, you will be treated with respect and understanding because we know everyone makes mistakes, and, sometimes people just need help. We represent DUI/DWI defendants in Prince William County and surrounding Virginia areas. If you’re reading this article on behalf of a loved one who is in jail, we’ll visit them there and start the process to get them home. Call 703-361-8246. Or if you prefer, use our contact form, and someone from our team will get back to you promptly.