What is a DUI in Virginia?

When operating a motor vehicle, boat or watercraft in Virginia, you are legally considered driving or operating under the influence (DUI) if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. You may be considered under the influence with a lower BAC if your ability to operate a motor vehicle, boat or water craft is impaired. If your driving is affected because you are under the influence of any drug, you may face the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are involved in a motor vehicle crash and a law enforcement officer has probable cause, you can be arrested for DUI within three hours of the crash without a warrant and at any location.

The Code of Virginia prohibits all motorists from driving or operating a motor vehicle, boat or watercraft:

  • while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. (.o2% or more if under the age of 21)
  • if alcohol or drugs impairs a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, that person may also be considered “under the influence”.

If your driving is affected because you are under the influence of any drug, you may face the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. Further, if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash and a law enforcement officer has probable cause, you can be arrested for DUI within three hours of the crash without a warrant and at any location.

Note that it is also illegal to hunt while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What are the penalties for a DUI in Virginia?

In Virginia, a DWI conviction will stay on your record for 10 years with punishments differing based on the jurisdiction and severity. Below are some common guidelines, but often any offense include vehicle impoundment, having an ignition interlock system installed, and a criminal record.

Conviction for DUI first offense:

  • Mandatory, minimum $250 fine
  • Driver’s license revocation for one year

Conviction for DUI second offense:

  • Mandatory, minimum $500 fine
  • Driver’s license revocation for three years
  • Possible jail term up to one year

Conviction for DUI second offense within ten years of prior offense carries the following additional penalty:

  • Mandatory, minimum ten-day jail term

Conviction for DUI second offense within five years of prior offense carries the following additional penalty:

  • Mandatory, minimum 20-day jail term

Three DUI convictions within a ten-year period:

  • Mandatory, indefinite driver’s license revocation
  • If your driving privilege is revoked for a first or second DUI offense conviction and you receive another DUI, the license revocation period will run consecutively with the existing revocation period.

Conviction for DUI third offense or DWI felony:

  • Mandatory, minimum $1,000 fine
  • Mandatory indefinite driver’s license revocation
  • Prosecution as a Class 6 felony

Conviction for DUI third offense within five years carries the following additional penalty:

  • Mandatory, minimum six-month jail term

Conviction for DUI third offense within ten years carries the following additional penalty:

  • Mandatory, minimum 90-day jail term
  • Permanent forfeiture of your vehicle (if you are the sole owner)

Conviction for DUI fourth or subsequent offense:

  • Mandatory, minimum one-year jail term

BAC of 0.15% and not higher than 0.20% at the time of arrest

  • First offense carries a mandatory, minimum five-day jail term in addition to all other penalties
  • Second offense within ten years carries a mandatory, minimum ten-day jail term in addition to all other penalties

BAC of 0.20% or higher at the time of arrest:

  • First offense carries a mandatory, minimum ten-day jail term in addition to all other penalties
  • Second offense within ten years carries a mandatory, minimum 20-day jail term in addition to all other penalties.

Open Container Law in Virginia

You may be charged with drinking while operating a motor vehicle if you are stopped by law enforcement and you have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area, the contents of which have been partially removed, and you exhibit signs that you have been drinking. The passenger area refers to the area designed to seat the driver and passengers and any area within the driver’s reach, including an unlocked glove compartment.

Breath Test Refusal in Virginia

By operating a vehicle on Virginia highways, you have consented to a breath or blood test upon arrest for DUI. If you unreasonably refuse a breath or blood test, Virginia law requires the court to suspend your driver’s license for one year. A second breath or blood test refusal shall result in a three-year suspension. A second breath test refusal is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are also convicted of DUI, the DUI driver’s license revocation period will run consecutively with the breath or blood test refusal revocation. You are not eligible for a restricted driver’s license during the suspension for a breath or blood test refusal.

Contact Tarris Law for your DUI?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI or other alcohol or drug related offense, please call our office immediately so that we may provide advice so you don’t dig yourself a deeper hole and so that we can help you minimize the penalties. Call 540-319-4111.