What is a DUI?
Under Virginia law, “Driving Under the Influence” or “Driving While Intoxicated” (DUI or DWI) means driving or operating a vehicle on a public roadway while under the influence of alcohol and/or any other drugs to a degree which impairs one’s ability to drive or operate a vehicle safely, i.e., intoxicated. See Va. Code § 18.2-266 et seq. You may also see the acronym “DUID” on your court paperwork, which is Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.
In some states, DUIs and DWIs are separate offenses. However, Virginia no longer distinguishes between Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Intoxicated. The same statute (Va. Code § 18.2-266) covers driving under the influence of just about any substance, and many courts will often use the catch-all “DUI” in their paperwork, whether it was drugs or alcohol that impaired a person’s driving.
What are the penalties for a DUI First Offense?
In Virginia, a first offense DUI is a Class I misdemeanor and carries a mandatory fine of at least $250 and up to $2,500. Additionally, for a first offense DUI, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 12 months in jail. Finally, your driver’s license will be revoked for one year, but you may be eligible for a Restricted Operator’s License. Under a restricted license, you will have to complete an alcohol counseling course through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), and you will only be allowed to drive to and from certain places, such as work, school, medical facilities, and other locations the court may deem necessary. In some cases, you will have to have a Vehicle Ignition Interlock installed.
If you are convicted of a first offense DUI with a BAC level under 0.15, you are not required to serve jail time. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI with a BAC level between .15 and .20, you will face the same penalties as above with an additional mandatory 5 day jail sentence. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI with a BAC level greater than .20, you will face the same penalties as above with an additional mandatory 10 day jail sentence.
A court may require additional penalties for a first offense DUI under certain circumstances, including the following:
-An accident occurred that caused property damage or personal injury
-You were younger than 21 years old at the time of your arrest
-There were minor children in the car with you at the time of your arrest
If you are charged with a DUI First Offense, you should consult a licensed criminal defense attorney in your area.
A DUI conviction on your record is very serious and can have devastating consequences from losing employment and housing opportunities to paying double or triple for auto insurance. You should not take this charge lightly. Consult a criminal defense attorney who is not afraid to go to trial and who will create a solid defense strategy to help you fight this charge.