Experienced Richmond, Virginia DUI DWI Lawyers
In Virginia, Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated is not a traffic violation―it’s a criminal offense! You’ll be handcuffed, arrested, taken to jail, and required to come to court. If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, it is important that you contact an experienced DUI / DWI attorney right away. The attorneys at Bernstein Hough, P.C.will provide you with a FREE legal consultation.
In Virginia, drunk driving refers to driving (a motor vehicle, boat, or watercraft) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%or more. In some instances, you can be convicted of DUI / DWI with an even lower BAC. You can also be charged with a DUI / DWI if you are under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant. This even includes prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication. You can be convicted of DUI if it is proven that you are driving while your skills, including judgment, coordination, and response time, are affected by an intoxicant.
DUI Breath Tests
If you are arrested for a DUI / DWI you will be given either a breath or blood test. Refusal to submit to the test will likely result in you being charged with the civil violation of refusal. If convicted of this civil offense, the Virginia DMV will suspend your driving privileges for 12 months in addition to any suspensions given by the court for a DUI / DWI conviction.
If you have either a prior conviction for refusing the breath test or a prior DUI conviction, refusing the breath test again will result in being charged with a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a three-year license suspension.
Administrative License Suspension
Upon your arrest for a first offense Driving Under the Influence / Driving While Intoxicated, you will likely be subject to a DMV administrative suspension of your driving privileges for seven days. For a second Richmond DUI offense and/or breath test refusal, your license will be automatically suspended for 60 days or until you go to trial, whichever is first. On your third offense, your license will be suspended until you go to trial.
DUI / DWI Penalties
A first offense DUI / DWI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor that carries a minimum fine of $250 (but can go as high as $2500), up to 12 months in jail, a 12 months license suspension, mandatory 6 months of ignition interlock (breathalyzer in your car), and the requirement that you enter into and successfully complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). The fines and jail time can go up depending on your blood alcohol content. For example, a person convicted of having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 will be sentenced to at least 5 mandatory days in jail and a person with a BAC of .20 or more will be sentenced to at least 10 mandatory days in jail.
A second offense DUI / DWI is also a Class 1 Misdemeanor that carries a mandatory minimum fine of $500, mandatory jail time of 10 or 20 days depending on how long it has been since the prior DUI / DWI (and possibly more, depending on the BAC), a three-year license suspension, ignition interlock, and completion of the VASAP program.
A third DUI offense is Class 6 Felony that carries a mandatory $1,000 minimum fine, a mandatory jail time of 3-6 months depending on how long it has been since the prior DUIs / DWIs, an indefinite license revocation, and possible vehicle forfeiture.
Anyone under 21 year of age who is caught driving with as little as a 0.02% BAC can face a $500 fine, a six-month license suspension, and jail time. Those under 21 years old who drive under the influence of drugs or with a BAC of 0.08% or greater are subject to the same penalties as those over 21, listed above.
The Virginia DMV’s brochure, “It Can’t Happen To Me”, explains the Virginia DUI laws and penalties in greater detail. It also covers other alcohol-related offenses, such as minors in possession of alcohol, open container laws, and using a fake ID to buy alcohol. The DMV’s drinking and driving page can also lead you to more facts, statistics, myths, and resources on the topic.
Because a DUI charge is a serious criminal offense, you should consult an experienced DUI / DWI attorney before you go to court. The knowledgeable DUI / DWI lawyers at Bernstein Hough, P.C.will give you a free initial consultation, inform you about your rights, and help you to decide how best to proceed in fighting the charges against you.
Remember, having the guidance of an experienced DUI / DWI attorney can increase your chances of successfully defending your driving privileges if you’ve been charged with DUI / DWI in Richmond, Virginia.