Getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking can have lasting consequences. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, you need an attorney who has plenty of experience in trying DUI cases. You need to contact James Short immediately.
Definition of a DUI
Driving under the influence (DUI) is also sometimes referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI). Under Virginia law, these terms are interchangeable.
If you are 21 or older, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. If you are driving a commercial motor vehicle, you will be charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.04% or higher. If you are under 21, you will be charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.02% or higher.
Your BAC depends on a number of factors, including your weight, gender, and whether you’ve recently eaten. There are charts you can use to estimate your BAC, but most people will be at 0.08% BAC or higher if they’ve had three to five drinks in the past hour.
The penalties for a DUI are steep. A first offense carries a mandatory minimum $250 fine and driver’s license revocation for one year. If your BAC is 0.15% but not higher than 0.20% at the time of arrest, there is a mandatory minimum five-day jail term in addition to all other penalties. If your BAC is 0.20% or higher, there is a mandatory minimum 10-day jail term in addition to all other penalties. A driver under 21 faces the same DUI penalties as a driver over 21 if their BAC is 0.08% or higher at the time of the arrest.
If you are convicted of a first offense DUI, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicles you operate as a condition of restricted driving privileges. Violating this requirement will result in an additional DMV revocation of your driving privileges for one year.
Please note that a DUI is a criminal charge and not a traffic offense—which means a conviction will give you the stigma of a criminal record. If your job involves operating a motor vehicle or requires a clear background check, you may find that a conviction prevents you from continuing your employment.
DUI charges are often accompanied by additional charges for offenses such as open container violations and driving while suspended. These charges carry their own separate penalties.
BAC is measured at the scene with a breath test, but a blood test may be performed after a person has been arrested to obtain more accurate results. All Virginia drivers are considered to have given implied consent for blood alcohol testing requested by a law enforcement officer.
If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, you will be charged with a separate offense. Your license will automatically be suspended for seven days, and you’ll face a one-year license suspension if convicted.
You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests, nor can your refusal be used as evidence of your guilt.
Defending Against a DUI Charge
The best way to avoid being convicted of a DUI is to not drink and drive. Since it’s difficult to accurately determine your BAC using online charts, the safest choice is to find alternative transportation whenever you plan to be drinking.
If you’ve already been charged with a DUI, your best option is to have your attorney attack the admissibility of your breath or blood test. If these tests are excluded, the only evidence is your driving behavior and the results of any field sobriety tests. If you did not submit to the field sobriety tests or there is reason to dispute the accuracy of the tests, you may have an opportunity to get the charge dismissed or reduced.
Criminal defense attorney James Short began his career as a prosecutor in the role of Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Portsmouth. He has been in private practice since 1991 and 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.