DUI charges carry serious consequences in Virginia that can severely impact a person's ability to carry on with daily life and have long-lasting penalties. Much of an individual's life revolves around their ability to get to and from places, such as work, school, their doctor's office, or their child's daycare or school. A DUI can make this much more complicated by taking away a person's ability to drive.
In addition to affecting your license, fines, and possible jail time, a DUI in Virginia also carries with it the stigma of criminal charges and a potential criminal conviction. One night out on the town does not have to turn into a permanent criminal record. Talking to a DUI attorney right away can help you secure a more favorable outcome and help you keep your right to drive.
Types of Criminal DUI Charges in Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia can charge a person with DUI at several levels. These can vary depending on whether or not a person has been convicted of a DUI offense before, the driver's age, blood alcohol content at the time of the arrest, and even the driver's occupation relating to CDL status. When a person is charged with a DUI, the prosecutor may want to bring the strongest charges they can. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you prepare a defense.
It is common knowledge that alcohol and drugs will affect every person differently, and any one person consuming a large quantity of alcohol has the potential to feel less of its effects than another person consuming the same amount. The law, however, paints with a broad brush and develops a single legal limit on a person's blood alcohol content. In most cases, when a person's blood alcohol content is over the legal limit of 0.08%, the law considers them as under the influence. The law also prescribes a more severe DUI for a higher blood alcohol content and a limit for those under the age of 21.
Many individuals are caught by surprise when faced with their first DUI charge. It can be a jarring event to have a simple night with friends turn into a serious criminal charge. A first DUI charge carries the possible consequences of license suspension, fines, ignition interlock device placement and mandatory rehabilitation through VASAP classes.
If a person is charged with a second DUI, the penalties associated with a conviction increase. The penalties for a second DUI conviction can include longer term of license suspension, mandatory ignition interlock device, jail time, fines, and mandatory rehabilitation through VASAP classes. All of these costs are borne by the defendant as well.
A third DUI in Virginia carries the most severe consequences for standard DUI charges. A first or second DUI is a misdemeanor but a 3rd DUI offense within 10 years is a felony. The potential penalties for a third DUI conviction can include mandatory jail time, fines, installation of an ignition interlock device, alcohol education programs, and the potential for an indefinite suspension of your license.
Under-21 DUI for Virginia Drivers
For drivers who are under the age of 21, the law takes a stricter stance against any impaired driving. If a driver under the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content of over 0.02%, they may face DUI charges. These charges can carry the same penalties as a standard DUI, including fines, rehabilitation, installation of an ignition interlock device, and possible jail time. In addition, an underage driver may also face additional charges for underage possession of alcohol or using a fake ID to buy alcohol.
Drug DUI in Virginia
A DUI in Virginia also applies to drivers under the influence of drugs or other substances. There is no clear limit for drug impairment like there is for alcohol. Instead, drug impairment may be left up to the subjective interpretation of the police officer. Unfortunately, a police officer may interpret nervousness or a medical condition as the driver being on drugs. A drug DUI carries similar penalties, with the added risk that the driver may also face criminal drug charges.
Virginia Commercial DUI
Drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) have a different standard than other drivers relating to the legal limit. DUI. For a commercial driver, a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or higher can result in a Class 3 Misdemeanor DUI charge (compared to 0.08% for other drivers). Commercial drivers facing DUI charges can suffer the same penalties as a regular DUI defendant; however, a CDL suspension can place the driver's livelihood in danger if they cannot drive. A second DUI can result in a permanent loss of a commercial driver's license.
Hit and Run DUI in Virginia
Hit and run DUI is one of the most serious drunk driving charges in Virginia. The driver can face criminal charges for drunk driving, as well as additional charges for leaving the scene of an accident. Virginia law requires drivers to stop when they are involved in a car accident. Fleeing an accident scene can result in felony charges, even if the driver was not over the legal limit.
Habitual Offender Status
While Virginia no longer declares driver's "Habitual Offender's", the law prohibiting driving as an HO remains in effect. Driving while the habitual offender's license is suspended or revoked can result in more severe criminal penalties, including mandatory jail time, and possible felony charges.
Virginia DUI Defense Attorney
Criminal DUI charges can turn your life upside down. If you are charged with a DUI, you may be unsure of where to turn and what to do next. An experienced attorney can help you sort out your case and provide a solid defense in court, or negotiate with the prosecutor to get a more favorable outcome. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in Charlottesville, attorney Thomas M. Wilson can help. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.