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What is the Definition of DUI in Virginia?


DUI or Driving under the influence.  Most people understand that definition because the definition of DUI is similar across the nation. Virginia is different in that laws here are stricter than in many other states with penalties that can be very harsh.

As is the case in every state, the measure of intoxicated driving is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 % or higher.

That does not mean if you take a breathalyzer test and you don’t measure that reading you are not intoxicated. You will also be considered to be under the influence if you appear impaired, whether you are operating a motor vehicle or boat.

If an officer suspects you are intoxicated, you may be put through a field sobriety test (FST). If that test, which is often recorded, shows you even acting intoxicated, the officer and prosecutor may move to charge you even if you don’t have a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

The exception is for the driver of a commercial vehicle, where the legal limit for intoxication is .04% BAC. There is also an exception for young drivers.

DUI Laws in Virginia- Under the age of 21

The Virginia DUI laws are strictest for young drivers or those who are not yet old enough to purchase and consume alcohol, that is, under age 21.

Any underage drinker in Virginia who is caught purchasing, possessing and/or consuming alcohol can face a fine up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, as well as mandatory suspension of their driver’s license.

Additionally, you will be facing a minimum mandatory fine of $500 under the Virginia DUI/Zero Tolerance penalties when you possess a fake ID.

DUI Laws in Virginia

First Offense – A conviction for a first time offense in Virginia is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Not only will you have a criminal record if you are convicted, but you will be fined from $250 to $2,500 and have your driver’s license suspended for up to one year.

Drive with a BAC over 0.15%, and you will likely spend at least five days and up to 30 days in jail along with a hefty fine.  You can also expect to lose your license for one year.

Second Offense – You may spend up to one year in jail for a DUI conviction for a second offense and lose your driver’s license for three years along with a minimum fine of $500.

Third and Fourth Offense – You may lose your driver’s license permanently and spend a minimum of one to five years in prison. If your offenses are within five or ten years of prior offenses, the fines and jail time increase.

Ignition Interlock Device

Virginia does not give you a pass when you have been convicted of any DUI-related offense.

You will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle or any vehicle you drive. It does not matter if you registered impaired or not, you will be required to install the device which includes an electronic log device on any car registered to you.

You blow into the mouthpiece of the handheld device which then measures the amount of alcohol in the driver’s breath. If you register over the legal limit, the vehicle will not start.  You can only drive to and from your job under this restricted license.

Even if the driver registers a BAC between 0.02% and 0.04%, that information will be submitted to the state for a secondary review.

Enhanced Penalties

Expect Virginia to throw additional penalties at you if you had a child in the car at the time of your DUI arrest. Other instances where no tolerance is shown are:

  • When someone refused to submit to a blood or breath test at the station or hospital after a DUI arrest
  • The driver is under the age of 21
  • Injury or property damage following an accident
  • Driving a commercial vehicle driver

A Virginia DUI Defense

This is not the time when you want to represent your own interests. Prosecutors and judges have given themselves some flexibility in how you are punished, and you want to have an experienced, advocate by your side. 

Contact the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225, so we can discuss how best to protect your rights during this difficult time.

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