A stop for a drink at a bar after work can easily turn into a nightmare when you notice the red and blue lights behind you as you drive home. Getting arrested for DUI is a situation that you should not take lightly, given the harsh penalties that the Commonwealth of Virginia imposes for even a first DUI conviction.
As a result, you may wish to talk with a Culpeper County DUI lawyer as quickly as possible following a DUI arrest. An experienced criminal defense attorney could help build the best possible defense.
Drivers of motor vehicles or watercraft can commit the criminal offense of driving under the influence (DUI) pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-266 in three different situations, if they are driving:
Individuals who drive under the influence are subject to automatic administrative driver’s license suspensions by the DMV pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-391.2. The length of the administrative suspension differs according to the circumstances of the arrest and whether individuals have prior convictions.
For first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more or any individuals who refuse to take a breath test when police ask them to do so, the administrative suspension will last seven days.
A second DUI offense or breath test refusal can cause an automatic administrative license suspension of 60 days or until the individuals go to trial for the DUI, whichever is first. A third or subsequent DUI offense or breath test refusal automatically suspends individuals’ licenses until they go to trial for the DUI.
Virginia law mandates license suspensions in the course of sentencing individuals on DUI charges.
First DUI convictions carry a license suspension for one year. A second DUI conviction result in a three-year suspension. If individuals have three DUI convictions within ten years, it is mandatory that their licenses will be indefinitely revoked.
Va. Code Ann. §18.2-270 establishes a first DUI offense as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which results in a mandatory fine of no less than $250.
The penalties for a second DUI conviction depend upon the length of time that has elapsed since the previous conviction. If individuals accumulate two DUI convictions within a five-year period, the court is required to order them to serve at least 20 days in jail.
The overall sentence can include a sentence of incarceration ranging from one month to one year, as well as a $500 fine.
If the second DUI conviction occurs within five to ten years of the prior conviction, the mandatory jail sentence drops to 10 days. The overall jail sentence for a second DUI conviction in this situation cannot exceed one month and the individuals also may be ordered to pay a $500 fine.
A third DUI conviction within five or ten years increases the charge to a Class 6 felony. If individuals commit a third DUI within ten years, the offense results in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days. However, if individuals commit a third DUI within five years, the mandatory minimum jail sentence increases to six months. Individuals also are potentially liable for a $1,000 fine.
Additionally, even a first DUI conviction for individuals whose BACs are 0.15 percent or higher will result in some minimum amount of mandatory days to be served in jail. Subsequent DUI convictions for individuals with BACs at this level will receive an increased amount of mandatory minimum days in jail.
Given the overall severity of DUI penalties, contacting a Culpeper County DUI attorney may give you the opportunity to minimize the impact of any penalties that you might receive on your personal or professional life.
In any DUI case, the potential penalties are severe, expensive, and can have a lasting impact on your life for years to come. A single mistake can result in the loss of your license, the loss of your job, and a great deal of financial hardship. Contact a Culpeper County DUI Lawyer today and begin to explore all options that may be available in your circumstances.