A Virginia DUI conviction carries a number of penalties, including possible jail time, fines, and a mandatory alcohol safety education program. However, unlike most other criminal charges, a DUI conviction will also restrict your ability to get around by car because of a revoked or suspended license. Multiple DUI charges can extend the loss of driving privileges for years.
For many people, the loss of their driver's license can be the most damaging part of a drunk driving conviction. Depending on a person's ability to obtain a restricted driving license, it may mean losing transportation to work, school, the store, or any other place you need a vehicle to get to. For residents of the Central Virginia area, a car can be necessary to get around. Without a license, individuals have to figure out how to navigate daily life by bus, bike, or asking friends for rides.
Virginia DUI Penalties
In Virginia, the penalties for drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs depend on the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC), previous DUI record, and the driver's age. Virginia's limit on a driver's BAC varies depending on the driver. The penalties may also depend on the driver's BAC:
- For the average driver over the age of 21, the legal limit to a person's BAC is .08%
- Penalties may increase if the driver's BAC is equal to or greater than 0.15% or 0.20%
- For a Virginia driver under the age of 21, the legal limit to their BAC is .02%
- For Virginia drivers with a Commercial Driver's License or CDL, the legal limit to their BAC is .04% (Class 3 Misdemeanor) (.08% = Class 1 Misdemeanor).
The consequences of a DUI conviction in Virginia can also increase depending on whether or not a person has been convicted of DUI charges before. If a person has been labeled as a habitual offender after 3 DUIs to 7/1/99, the penalties drastically increase. The penalties also depend on how recently the prior DUI convictions occurred, within the last 5 years or more than 5 years prior but less than 10 years.
Administrative License Suspension After a DUI in Virginia
In all cases, any DUI conviction will result in a driver's license suspension or revocation for some period of time. There are two types of license suspensions after a DUI in Virginia, including an administrative license suspension (ALS) after an arrest, even if the driver is never convicted of a DUI.
When the police arrest a driver with a BAC over the legal limit, or the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, the police will take away the driver's license. The administrative license suspension period depends on the number of prior DUIs or chemical test refusals:
- 1st DUI: 7-day license suspension
- 2nd DUI: 60-day suspension (or suspended until trial, whichever is sooner)
- 3rd DUI: License suspended until trial
A first DUI in Virginia can result in a suspended license for 12 months. A driver may be able to get a restricted license after a conviction; however, this is limited to driving to specific locations or during certain times, such as driving to and from work, school, or doctor's appointments.
An ignition interlock device (IID) is also required for all DUI convictions, even a first-time DUI. The ignition interlock device requires alcohol-free breath tests before the car can be started and to continue driving. The driver is also responsible for periodic reporting and the cost of installation and maintenance of the device.
A second DUI in Virginia may result in a suspended license for 3 years. The driver may be able to get a restricted license to allow for limited driving to and from places like work, school, or court appointments. However, the driver has to wait before he or she is able to petition the court for restricted driving privileges:
- After 4 months if the second DUI was more than 5 years earlier but within the past 10 years.
- After 1 year if the second DUI was within the past 5 years.
An ignition interlock device will be required for the individual to be able to drive. The IID restriction period may last from 6 months to 3 years after a second DUI.
A third DUI in Virginia may result in the driver's license being suspended indefinitely. However, the driver may be able to petition to have their driving privileges reinstated after 5 years. A restricted license to allow for limited driving privileges will not be available until after 3 years. An ignition interlock device may be required from 6 months to 3 years after a third DUI.
Habitual DUI Offender
Until 7/1/99, after a 3rd DUI within a ten year period, an individual may have been declared a "habitual offender." Under Virginia Code § 46.2-357, it is still a crime to drive on a revoked license after having been declared a habitual offender. The penalties for a first violation may include up to 90 days in jail (minimum 10 days) and a fine of up to $2,500.
If the habitual offender is driving in a way that endangers life, limb, or property of another, the crime is a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction for driving as a habitual offender is also a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
Reinstating Your Virginia Driver's License After A Suspension
Even after waiting out the license suspension period, the driver has to apply to have their driving privileges reinstated. The requirements for reinstating driving privileges will depend on the individual circumstances. After a DUI conviction, reinstating driving privileges may require:
- Proof of payment of all court costs and fines;
- Proof of completion of any court-ordered rehabilitation programs (including VASAP);
- Proof of an SR22 certificate of insurance from the insurance company; and
- Payment of DMV reinstatement fees.
Charlottesville DUI Defense Attorney
It is important to understand the driving penalties associated with a DUI conviction and how to fight drunk driving charges to you don't lose your license. A one-time event should not put your license at risk. If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.