Before your case ever goes to trial, you should do all you can to fight a DUI charge in Virginia. Unlike in other states where first offenses are often excused, and some levels of DUI are charged as traffic offenses, DUI is always charged as a crime in Virginia, and first-time offenders can find themselves in jail. If you are found guilty of DUI in Virginia, you face serious consequences. We take a look at what happens after the judge finds you guilty of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol in Chesapeake and how a skilled DUI defense attorney can fight for the best possible outcome.
After a Conviction, You Will Be Sentenced
Virginia DUI laws include a long list of potential penalties for conviction. Some of these are issued at the judge's discretion based on the circumstances of your DUI arrest. Having an advocate by your side to argue for reduced penalties could go a long way towards securing the best possible outcome. Some potential consequences include:
- Loss of your license for one to three years
- Attendance at an alcohol education class for two hours a week
- Loss of your vehicle for 90 days
- Fines of up to $2500
Whether these penalties apply to you or not will depend on factors such as previous DUI convictions, your DMV record, how you were driving at the time of your arrest, witness testimony, and your attorney's arguments for leniency. However, if your blood alcohol content is .15 or above, you will face mandatory jail time as follows:
- First offense. If your BAC is between .15 and .19, you will go to jail for five days. If it is .20 or higher, you will go to jail for ten days.
- Subsequent offense within 10 years. You will be sentenced to 20 days in jail for a BAC between .15 and .19 and 30 days for a BAC .20 or higher.
- Subsequent offense within 5 years. This will land you in jail for 30 days for a BAC between .15 and .19 and 40 days for .20 and higher.
Mandatory minimum sentences cannot, by definition, be reduced or excused. Virginia is very tough on drivers they consider to be "super drunk," and you will pay the price if you are convicted
When Your Attorney Might Appeal a Conviction
Just because you are found guilty does not mean you don't still have options. If the arresting officer violated your rights or made mistakes during the arrest process, you might have grounds to file an appeal to overturn the conviction. A successful appeal could result in a dismissal of the charges or a new trial. Some common grounds for appeals include:
- Illegal traffic stops. A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated to pull you over. Examples of this include erratic driving, speeding, driving too slowly, and weaving in and out of traffic. If it can be shown that you did not provide a reason for the traffic stop, the conviction could be overturned.
- Invalid field sobriety tests. These tests, which include walking a straight line and standing on one leg, should be performed according to strict criteria. If the officer did not follow protocol, the results could be thrown out.
- Invalid chemical tests. Testing equipment must be calibrated and maintained to high standards. If the Breathalyzer machine used in your case was not properly maintained, the results could be invalidated. Likewise, blood draws have to be administered according to certain medical standards. If that was not the case, the result could be invalid.
Your attorney will investigate these possible reasons for overturning a conviction and file an appeal if one is warranted.
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. 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.