The Commonwealth of Virginia has imposed strict sentencing punishments for individuals found guilty of driving under the influence. These are harsh compared to other states and are made stricter every year. A person can be found guilty of DWI (driving While Intoxicated) or DUI (Driving Under the Influence) if the officer has probable cause to believe their driving is impaired by alcohol or another drug. The same law covers both DWI and DUI. Virginia courts often refer to both types as “DUI.”
First time offenders can expect a minimum $250 fine and to have their driver’s license suspended for one year. A Restricted License with an Interlock ignition device allowing driving to and from work may be requested. Drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or greater face a mandatory five-day jail sentence. For a BAC greater than 0.20, drivers face a 10-day sentence. Different counties may add on higher punishments or additional DUI penalties, like having to attend a Victim Impact Panel composed of people injured by Virginia drunk drivers. All convicted Virginia DUI/DWI drivers also must complete ASAP. an alcohol safety program.
For second offenses, the state could convict an individual for one month to one year with a mandatory fine of $500 or more and a license suspension of up to three years. Repeat convictions within a five to 10 year span carry mandatory sentencing with additional jail time for a higher BAC. So Virginia has a 10 year look-back period for prior DUI offenses.
If an individual receives a third DUI within 10 years, the offense is classified as a class six felony. Along with a sentence of at least 90 days in jail, the offense carries a minimum $1000 fine and loss of license.
A fourth DUI offense results in a mandatory sentence of one year in jail.
About the author: Thad (Thaddeus) Furlong is an attorney based in Stafford, Virginia, whose area of practice includes handling criminal DUI and DWI offenses, drug offenses, traffic violations, and other crimes. A former law enforcement officer, Mr. Furlong understands the impact laws can have on the accused and strives to offer clear and effective representation.