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What Do I Need to Know About A Virginia DUI?
Do you know the DUI law in Virginia?
The state of Virginia relies heavily on blood alcohol content when determining penalties for driving under the influence.
Driving with any blood alcohol content over 0.08 percent is illegal in Virginia.
DUI and DWI, even as a first offense, is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. This is only one step below a felony and carries very serious penalties.
In this post, the attorneys at the Manassas Law Group will discuss DUI penalties in Virginia. We’ll also talk about the difference between DUI and DWI, and some potential legal defenses.
What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI?
DUI and DWI are similar names for similar offenses: operating a motor vehicle under the influence of something.
There isn’t a significant amount of difference between the two charges in Virginia. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated”. This means that when a court does use DWI, it applies to an alcohol charge. DUI, on the other hand, might refer to either alcohol or drugs. However, if you do have a drug charge, there is a separate charge called DUID; driving under the influence of drugs.
However, DUID, DWI, and DUI are all under the same statute. No matter what the court or an attorney calls it, you’ll face the same charges.
What Are The Penalties for DUI in Virginia?
Again, the biggest factor in determining penalties for DUI is blood alcohol content.
On your first offense, if your blood alcohol content is .15 to .20, DUI law in Virginia requires that you spend 5 days in jail.
If your blood alcohol content is over .20, the DUI law in Virginia requires 10 days in jail. If your BAC is below .15, DUI law in Virginia does not require any jail time.
Anyone who a Virginia court finds guilty of a DUI has to participate in VASAP, the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. There’s no way around this requirement. Even if the DUI is for prescription medication, DUI law in Virginia still requires VASAP.
Some courts require VASAP on pain of jail time, though not all. But you do need to complete VASAP to clear your license with the Virginia DMV.
But what is VASAP?
VASAP usually consists of a minimum of 10 weeks of classes. Each class is two hours long. Depending on your criminal record and substance abuse history, you may also have to do AA meetings as well.
Regardless of treatment classes, jail time is, obviously, our client’s biggest question mark when it comes to DUI law in Virginia. We already talked about mandatory jail times, but it is possible to get more than the mandatory jail time. It is also possible to get jail time when there is no mandatory jail time, especially if your DUI involved a car accident. Many prosecutors will push hard for jail time in those cases.
How Long Does a First Offense DUI Stay On Your Record?
DUIs are a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. As we mentioned above, this is the most serious misdemeanor in Virginia. Unfortunately, this record will exist for the rest of your life.
Virginia criminal history covers your entire life, so that misdemeanor conviction will be there forever.
However, a DUI conviction will only be on your driving record for 11 years. While this is still a long time, it’s not the rest of your life.
This is one reason why it’s so important to let an experienced attorney handle your DUI case. The outcome will follow you for the rest of your life.
What Are Some Legal Defenses for DUI?
What, you might ask, exactly can an attorney do for your DUI?
There are some legal defenses for a DUI. Most of them involve proving that the officer who stopped you had no reason to do so, or broke protocol in some other way.
However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. For instance, many clients might ask if they can win their case based on whether or not the officer read them their Miranda Rights. The law requires an officer to read a suspect their Miranda Rights as they arrest them and take them into custody. Usually, this does not apply to a DUI case, as officers will get everything they need before taking a suspect into custody.
But if an officer does not read you your Miranda Rights and continues to question you in custody, we can hopefully exclude any answers you give.
The most common defense for a DUI in Virginia is to get the charge downgraded to a “wet reckless”. This is a slang term in DUI law in Virginia for a reckless driving charge. A “wet reckless” charge will also include potential AA meetings and VASAP.
This defense may not be possible in every case. Many times, if a prosecutor feels secure in their case, they will resist lowering the charge.
Will I Lose My Driver’s License for a DUI in Virginia?
DUI law in Virginia requires a 7-day suspension of your license for a first offense DUI, and a 60-day suspension for a second offense.
Once your pre-trial suspension is done, you can go pick up your license at the clerk’s office. Sometimes, the clerk’s office will mail it to you. If the clerks don’t have your license, or if your license becomes lost in the mail, you can ask for a re-issue of your license through the Virginia DMV.
Will I Be Able to Drive to Work?
Under the DUI law in Virginia, you will lose your license after a DUI conviction. The good news is that in most courts, you’ll be eligible for a restricted driver’s license. This license will allow you to drive to work, school, church, and childcare.
For the first six months, there would be an ignition interlock device on your car. This requires you to take a Breathalyzer test every time you start your car.
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