Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offenses in Virginia. You can be charged with DUI if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher and charged with DWI if you appear to be intoxicated due to alcohol or drug use. These offenses are very similar, and the sentences you could face if convicted are identical.
Penalties for a First Offense DUI or DWI
A first offense DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and you will have a permanent criminal record if convicted of this. Your punishment can include the following:
- Jail. You could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, but this can be suspended by the judge. If your BAC was between 0.15 percent and 0.19 percent, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is five days. It increases to 10 days if your BAC was 0.20 percent or higher.
- Fine. You may be required to pay a fine, which could be a minimum of $250 up to a maximum of $2,500
- VASAP. You will be required to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and will be placed on some form of probation for up to one year.
- Driver’s license suspension. Your driver’s license can be suspended for one year, but you may be able to obtain a restricted license. In order to do so, you would need to install an ignition interlock device on your auto for at least six months.
Penalties for Second Offense DUI or DWI
A second offense DUI is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, the penalties are harsher and include:
- Fine of at least $500.
- Mandatory jail sentence of at least 20 days if your second offense is within five years of your first DUI conviction and at least 10 days if it is within 10 years of the first conviction.
- Additional mandatory 10-day jail sentence if your BAC was between 0.15 and 0.19 percent and 20 days if your BAC was 0.20 percent or higher.
- Driver license suspension for three years with the possibility of a restricted license.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if you are granted a restricted license.
Penalties for Third and Fourth DUI or DWI Convictions
You could be charged with a Class 6 felony if this is your third or fourth DUI offense. The penalties may include:
- Prison sentence of up to 5 years for a third offense and 10 years for a fourth offense, with possible mandatory minimum sentences.
- Fine not to exceed $2,500 for both offenses.
- Indefinite driver’s license suspension, with the possibility of applying for a restricted license after three years and full reinstatement after five years.
Even if you believe that you are guilty of DUI or DWI, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn how our experienced criminal defense attorneys can assist you in avoiding the harsh punishments you face, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free case evaluation today.