You had a few beers or glasses of wine with dinner—no big deal. You certainly were not out partying, and you feel fine to drive home. When you see the flashing blue lights behind you, however, the situation instantly becomes a very big deal. That's because, in Virginia, it doesn't matter that you were just out to dinner, you feel totally sober, and you have a clean driving record. It doesn't even matter that you have no previous DUIs. You can still face serious consequences if you are convicted of a DUI. And for people who DO have a previous DUI or who are very drunk, you need to realize that things just got real.
You Could Go to Jail for a DUI in Virginia
Just as in every other state, Virginia considers you to be driving under the influence of alcohol if your BAC is .08 or higher. However, Virginia also has mandatory minimum jail time if your BAC is .15 or higher. For a FIRST OFFENSE, you will go to jail for five days if your BAC is .15 to .19 and for ten days if it is .20 or higher. That's on your very first conviction! If you are convicted a second time within ten years, jail time increases to 20 days for under .20 and 30 days for a BAC that is .20 or higher. What if your second conviction comes within five years of your first arrest? Then you're facing 30 days in jail for a .15 and 40 days for .20 or higher. These penalties increase with every subsequent conviction.
What Are the Other Consequences of a DUI?
Going to jail is probably the greatest concern for most of our clients, but we remind them that there are other serious consequences they should be worried about as well. Those include:
- Loss of license. The first time you are convicted of a DUI, you could lose your driver's license for up to a year. Think about that. How will you get to work, care for your children, or get groceries? A second DUI, even eight or nine years after the first, means you could lose your license for three years!
- Alcohol education program. Virginia courts don't care that you just had wine with dinner and are not an alcoholic. In order to get your license back after a DUI, you could be ordered to attend an alcohol education class for two hours a week for ten weeks. You could also be required to attend a treatment program for alcoholics.
- Impounded vehicle. Your car could be impounded for 90 days if you are caught driving on a suspended license, or it is not your first conviction. It won't matter if someone else in your household also uses the car. And to get it back after the 90 days, you will have to pay a hefty fee.
- Fines & restitution. At the judge's discretion, you could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $2500, in addition to court and legal fees. Some judges will also order people convicted of DUI to pay restitution of up to $1000, particularly if someone is injured in a crash you caused.
Clearly, it's just not worth the risk to drive after you've had a few drinks, but if it's too late for you to heed this advice, the next best thing you can do is contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
We Are Here to Fight for You
At James E. Short, PLC, our criminal defense team will take every step to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Building a DUI defense is complicated and requires legal knowledge and skill that come with time. In the 30 years that James Short has been in private practice, he has handled hundreds of DUI cases for clients from Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and the surrounding areas. If you've been charged with a DUI in Virginia, please contact us today to request a consultation to discuss how to best proceed with your case.