Virginia DUI Law

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Virginia DUI Attorneys

In Virginia, DUI offenses are governed by § 18.2-266 of the state law. This statute employs various criteria to determine the legality of operating a motor vehicle for an individual. Law enforcement officers are authorized to stop and detain suspects if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that a law is being violated. Detention can occur if there is probable cause to suspect the commission of a crime, supported by observations and on-site field tests. Subsequently, the alleged drivers undergo a court hearing where they can present their case or receive a judgment based on the available evidence. If you find yourself in this situation, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a Virginia DUI lawyer.

Several factors are considered in DUI cases, including the age of the alleged driver, the specific drug they were under the influence of at the time of arrest, and whether the offense was compounded by additional issues or crimes. For instance, a DUI case may be straightforward if a driver is pulled over while driving home, resulting in a simple DUI charge. However, if the DUI incident leads to an accident causing injury or death, the penalties can be significantly more severe. In such cases, the minimum penalty may be imposed in the former scenario, while the maximum penalty may be sought in the latter. En Español.

Sections of the Law

When examining § 18.2-266, it is evident that § 18.2-266 (i) presumes that anyone with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above 0.08 is driving under the influence of alcohol. BAC levels can be determined through a breathalyzer test administered by an officer, providing probable cause. It is important to note that individuals have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test on the scene, but refusal can lead to arrest based on other failed field tests. Some of these field tests may include:

  • Reciting the alphabet.
  • Walking in a straight line.
  • Following officer’s instructions.
  • Looking into a flashlight beam.
  • Answering questions posed by the officer.
  • Generally, officers have the discretion to administer multiple tests they deem necessary to determine impairment. Failure of any test may establish probable cause for arrest.

§ 18.2-266 (ii) establishes that it is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the amount consumed. § 18.2-266 (iii) extends this unlawfulness to driving while under the influence of any self-administered narcotic drug or any combination of drugs that could produce similar effects. Committing any of these actions can result in a DUI charge in NoVa, necessitating the representation of a Virginia DUI lawyer.

Age Differences

The age of the individual arrested can significantly impact the charges they may face. Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with a BAC above 0.02. However, individuals over 21 are subject to charges if their BAC exceeds 0.08. Commercial drivers, such as those employed by freight or limo companies, are not permitted to have a BAC above 0.04, as it pertains to their commercial license.

Motor Vehicles: Definition

A Virginia DUI lawyer will inquire about the type of vehicle involved in the arrest. It is important to note that § 18.2-266 includes various vehicles, not limited to cars and trucks, but also encompassing trains, vehicles with engines (such as dirt bikes and ATVs), and mopeds. The law explicitly specifies that mopeds are subject to the same regulations, leaving no room for circumventing roadway laws.

Refusing a Test

As mentioned earlier, individuals have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test when apprehended. However, Virginia operates under an “implied consent” law. Refusing the test at the station constitutes a separate offense with automatic penalties. For a first offense, conviction results in a one-year license suspension, with no restricted license permitted and no jail time. A second offense within ten years increases the penalty to a three-year license suspension and a minimum ten-day jail sentence. The third offense incurs the same penalty, along with another three-year license suspension and a minimum 90-day jail sentence.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

If convicted of a first offense under § 18.2-266, the minimum penalty is five days in jail if there is a passenger under 18 years of age or if the BAC ranges between 0.15 and 0.20. This penalty increases to 10 days for a BAC exceeding 0.20. Additional consequences may include a fine of at least $250, mandatory enrollment in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, installation of an ignition interlock device, and a one-year license suspension.

For a second offense, the jail term ranges from 20 days to one year, with a minimum fine of $500. Having a passenger under 18 years of age increases the minimum jail term by five days and may raise the fine to $1,000. A three-year license suspension is imposed.

Ignition Interlock Device

Virginia mandates the use of an Ignition Interlock device after a second offense under § 18.2-266. In most cases, it is used after a first offense if the individual seeks a restricted license. This device, similar to a breathalyzer, is connected to the vehicle’s dashboard. Before starting the vehicle, it checks the driver’s BAC. The system records the driver’s actions to prevent fraud or attempts to bypass the device’s restrictions.

Alcohol Safety Action Program

Even for a first offense, completion of the state’s Alcohol Safety Action Program is typically required. This program provides information about substance use and abuse, as well as the dangers of intoxicated driving. Failure to complete the program may result in probation violations and additional fines, jail time, and license suspensions.

If you face a DUI charge, a Virginia DUI lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and aim for a fair trial and a favorable outcome. Contact our office today to consult with one of our experienced DUI lawyers.