Alternatives to jail time and license suspensions in Virginia for DUI convictions
As an attorney that regularly assist clients facing DUI charges I understand the concern that often accompanies a DUI charge with respect to the stigma that comes along with a DUI charge. Clients often ask about diversion programs and alternative convictions such as reckless driving to a DUI conviction.
Alternative sentencing in DUI cases
The reality is that there are relatively few alternative sentencing options for Virginia DUI cases. This is due in part to efforts made by the General Assembly to limit these options by setting forth mandatory minimum sentencing requirements; and it is also limited by the Commonwealth Attorney's general reluctance to amend charges due, in part, to public pressure against doing so. However, in cases, where there is little evidence to support a conviction alternative sentences are a realistic possibility.
DUI cases in Virginia are rarely ever easily reduced. No Commonwealth Attorneys' offices wants to have the reputation of being soft on drivers who commit DUI's. While this practice will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction there are certain circumstances where a DUI case may be reduced to a reckless driving conviction. This occurs most often in cases where there is weak evidence against the defendant, or there is some other procedural defect that may affect the Commonwealth's ability to successfully prosecute the case.
In order for this evidence to come to light it is important that all aspects of the case are researched so that if one of these possible issues are present they can be brought to the prosecutor or judge's attention in a proper way.
Virginia driver's license
Any conviction for a DUI in Virginia will result in a loss of the driver's privilege to drive in Virginia for at least one year. However, a driver may be eligible for a restricted driver's license. For subsequent convictions a driver will not be eligible for at least a certain period of time to drive at all. If a driver is able to "beat" the charge then he will not be subject to the loss of license requirements. Unfortunately, in Virginia diversion programs as a way to have a DUI charge dismissed without a trial are simply not an option for virtually every DUI case in Virginia. Typically the best way to keep your license by finding a way to successfully defend your DUI charge.
If the charge is not defensible what alternatives exist?
If it is clear that a case will result in a conviction and jail time is required by statute, as it is in many DUI cases, your attorney can ask for work release or in certain circumstances home confinement so that the driver does not lose his job.
Given the serious nature of DUI charge it is important to consult with an experienced attorney in this area of the law. I'm available to help work with you to find an alternative sentence if appropriate.