Understanding DUI Laws in Virginia

The State of Virginia, along with city and county law enforcement, has a very aggressive attitude regarding the implementation of the DUI laws. In fact, Virginia has some of the nation’s harshest sentences for a DUI conviction. According to the Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266:

  • It is illegal for you to operate any motor vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater.
  • You are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle “..while … under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug…” defined as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, including medication that has been legally prescribed to you.
  • Your first conviction on a DUI charge can result in a fine of between $250 to $300, license suspension or restriction for one year, mandatory participation in an anti-driving while impaired program, and installation an ignition interlock device.
  • A second DUI conviction could lead to from one month to one year in jail if the second conviction occurred less than five years from the first offense. A minimum of 10 days in jail is imposed if the conviction occurred within five to 10 years from the first. There are also the usual license restrictions/revocation and ignition interlock provisions.
  • Penalties for a third DUI conviction get progressively worse, and you can expect to serve up to one year in jail and have your license revoked or restricted.

Additionally, there are special provisions in the DUI laws for BACs in those under the age of 21 and commercial drivers (0.04), refusing to take a chemical alcohol or drug test, and open containers. There can also be additional penalties if you are arrested for DUI and you have a passenger under the age of 17 in your vehicle or if you are convicted of DUI in Virginia and you are under the legal drinking age of 21. Also, if you are involved in an accident resulting in a fatality, you can be charged with a felony and face at least a year in jail.

Clearly, the laws of Virginia can be very confusing, and an arrest on the charge of violating the Virginia DUI laws can lead to a host of unpleasant consequences. It is, therefore, important that you obtain representation by an attorney with experience in handling DUI cases in the Virginia courts as soon as it is possible after your arrest.

A DUI attorney will review the circumstances of your arrest to make sure that you were not illegally detained and that every subsequent stage of your arrest was conducted in strict accordance with established principles of law.

Remember that the fundamental principles of our legal system state that anyone who is arrested on any criminal charge is assumed to be innocent until proven otherwise and that everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial trial.

To protect your legal rights after a DUI arrest, you should contact an experienced attorney to handle your case.