Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Virginia

For anyone who has consumed alcohol and then gotten behind the wheel, it can be very frightening to see lights flashing behind the vehicle. If you have been charged with drunk driving in Virginia, learning about the laws and knowing defense strategies will help take some stress off you as you navigate the criminal justice system. Make sure you are informed of your rights and talk to a Virginia DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Virginia Drunk Driving Laws

The law in Virginia prohibits you from driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a BAC of .08% or more. Even if you are in your car and it isn’t moving, the Virginia Supreme Court considers a person operating a vehicle when they are in “actual physical control of the vehicle,” so driving is not a requirement of conviction.

In Virginia, even if you are just operating a moped on the public highways, you could be charged with a drunk driving offense.

If you are under the age of 21 years old, the drunk driving limit is lowered to .02%. For a first offense for drinking and driving under the age of 21, you can be subject to a fine of $500 or have to participate in a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service hours. 

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15 to .20%; BAC of .20% or more; driving while under the influence with a child in the car; reckless driving; accident causing injury or death; prior convictions

Virginia typically treats the first two DUI convictions as Class 1 misdemeanors with penalties starting with:

  • $250 to $500 in fines
  • One to three-year license revocation
  • One month to one year of imprisonment
  • An ignition interlock device (IID)

The offense escalates to a Class 6 felony if you are facing your third offense and you have two prior convictions within a ten-year period. Punishments include minimum penalties of a $1,000 fine and indefinite license revocation. 

If the prior offenses were committed within a 10-year period, you can face minimum of 90 days in jail. If 3 or more DUIs were within the last 5 years, the mandatory minimum sentence can be 6 months in jail.

Plea Deals in Virginia 

If you are facing your first drunk driving charge, you might be able to plead guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving or a plea deal that would outweigh the risks of going to trial. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney can work out a deal with the prosecutor to help you avoid the most severe penalties after a drunk driving arrest.

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