What You Need to Know About DUI Laws in Virginia

In Virginia, a person is driving under the influence (DUI) if they are over the age of 21 and operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Drivers under 21 years old must have BAC under 0.02 percent, according to DMV.org.

A driver with extremely high BAC levels over 0.15 percent faces additional jail time. Courts impose harsher penalties for each additional DUI conviction. A first-time offender faces a mandatory minimum $250 fine a one-year driver’s license suspension. For the second DUI conviction, a driver may have his license revoked for three years in addition to paying a mandatory minimum $500 fine and serving up to one year in jail. Additional DUI convictions have harsher penalties, and Virginia provides this information in its online pamphlet “Virginia is Tough” at dmv.virginia.gov.

A driver in Virginia may not request a blood test instead of a breath test. He may refuse to take the breath test but may be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. If he has had two previous DUI convictions or one previous breath test refusal conviction within the last ten years, he may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and have his license suspended for three years.

A driver must also be aware of other driving and alcohol-related crimes in Virginia. These include driving with an open alcohol container in the vehicle’s passenger area and driving while impaired with a passenger under the age of 17. A driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if he kills another person while driving under the influence. If a driver has his license suspended for DUI and he is caught driving, he may have his vehicle impounded for up to 90 days.

Virginia takes DUI offenses very seriously, and a driver charged with a DUI offense needs good legal representation to help him successfully navigate the court system, especially if he does not plan to plead guilty. The driver should consult with an experienced DUI attorney soon after his arrest. In some cases, the prosecutor may offer the driver the option to plead guilty to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. An experienced attorney can negotiate this plea deal or argue the driver’s case in court. Legal representation may mean the difference between a DUI conviction or a not guilty decision by a jury.