Virginia DUI/DWI First Offense
Virginia law, specifically §18.2-266 et seq. of the Code of Virginia as amended, essentially defines “Driving While Intoxicated” ( “DUI” or “DUI/DWI”) as “driving or operating” a “motor vehicle, engine, or train” on a public roadway while under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs (or combination thereof) to a degree which impairs one’s ability to drive or operate a vehicle safely, i.e., intoxicated. Perhaps the most common means by which prosecutors attempt to convict someone of DUI/DWI is to show that the driver or operator of a vehicle had a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.8 or higher at the time he was given a breath or blood test. They do this by introducing a BAC-based Certificate of Analysis that permits prosecutors to create a “permissive inference” of intoxication.
What To Expect After A First Offense
Being charged with DUI/DWI is a serious offense that carries harsh penalties. The penalties will affect both your freedom and your wallet. Additionally, a DUI/DWI conviction may affect your ability to find a job or maintain employment especially if a clean driving record or the absence of a criminal record is a requirement. You can expect your car insurance rate to increase, or you may even be dropped by your insurer or have difficulty obtaining coverage.
What are the penalties for a first-offense DUI/DWI? In Virginia, a first offense DUI OR DWI is a Class I misdemeanor. In other words, Virginia classifies a first offense DUI/DWI as the most serious type of criminal misdemeanor. As a result, a first offense DUI/DWI carries a mandatory minimum fine of $250, but the fine can be as high as $2,500. Additionally, for a first offense DUI/DWI, you can be sentenced to a maximum of twelve (12) months in jail. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI/DWI with a BAC level under 0.15, you are not required to serve jail time and probably will not serve jail time, however, there are no guarantees of no jail time if the Court believes the facts of one’s case to be egregious.
Jail Time For A First DWI Conviction
If you are convicted of first offense DUI/DWI with a BAC level between 0.15 and 0.20, Virginia law requires you to serve a minimum of five (5) days in jail. It should be noted that this time is not accorded the customary 50% reduction for ‘good time’ served, but requires the defendant to actually serve the full five days in jail. This can have a devastating impact on one’s ability to maintain his or her employment. If you are convicted of a first offense DUI/DWI with a BAC level over 0.20, you will be sentenced to a jail term for a minimum of ten (10) days.
Will I lose my driver’s license for some time for a first-offense DUI/DWI? Yes. Fines and possible jail time are only the beginning. If you are arrested for first offense DUI/DWI, your driver’s license in the Commonwealth of Virginia will be administratively suspended for seven (7) days. And if you’re convicted of first offense DUI OR DWI, your privilege to drive in the Commonwealth of Virginia will be suspended for one year. However, first offenders may request a “restricted license” that will carry with it several conditions, including the condition you enroll in an alcohol counseling course through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), commonly referred to as “ASAP”.
If the judge grants your request, you will be issued a restricted driver’s license that will allow you to drive to and from work (and possibly during work for work-required transportation), to and from school, travel to and from medical facilities, court-ordered programs for alcohol counseling, and a few other very limited exceptions.