DUI penalties in Virginia

Virginia penalties for impaired driving offenses scale based upon the number of offenses a person has had and the blood alcohol content level.

Happy hours at the end of a work week, birthday parties, family get-togethers, holiday celebrations and more are all common events at which alcohol is served and consumed. While it is commonplace for Virginia residents to enjoy these events with friends, coworkers and family member, people must be ever aware of the risk of being arrested for drunk driving.

Many very responsible people find themselves surprised when they are stopped on their way home for a minor traffic violation and then asked to submit to field sobriety tests. As the arrest process unfolds, fears about what can happen understandably flood people's minds. Certainly not every DUI arrest results in a conviction but it is nonetheless important for people who have been arrested to understand the potential consequences.

What are the penalties for a first offense?

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, people convicted of a first DUI offense may lose the right to drive for 12 months and be required to pay a $250 fine. A blood alcohol content over .014 percent may add time in jail to the set of consequences.

What are the penalties for a second offense?

If a person is convicted of drunk driving for a second time, they may be sentenced to spend up to 12 months in jail even with a BAC level below 0.15 percent. A driver's license will be revoked for 36 months and the fine increases from $250 for a first offense to $500. If the second conviction is within 10 years of the first conviction, the driver must spend at least 10 days in jail. Mandatory jail time increases to 20 days if there were less than five years between the first and second convictions.

The Code of Virginia explains that an additional 10 days in jail can be ordered for a driver with a BAC between 0.15 and 0.19 percent. An additional 20 days will be added if a driver's BAC was 0.20 percent or higher.

What are the penalties for a third offense?

A third DUI conviction is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. After a third conviction, a driver's license will be permanently revoked and a fine of $1,000 must be paid. Up to six months of jail time may be required as a minimum depending upon the timing of the conviction relative to the prior two convictions.

What should drivers do?

People who have been arrested for drunk driving should always get help from an attorney. There are many nuances involved in DUI cases that make the input of an experienced lawyer important for drivers trying to defend themselves.