Intoxicated driving is taken extremely seriously in Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles emphasizes that more than one-third (34 percent) of all traffic fatalities in the state are tied to alcohol use. Given the seriousness with which the law takes DUI/DWI cases, anyone who is facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) needs to understand the consequences of a conviction. Not only can you face jail time and steep fines, but you can also face other social and financial repercussions once you have served your sentence. Moreover, the consequences can vary depending upon whether you are a first-time offender or a subsequent offender, and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest.
If you are facing charges, you need to hire an aggressive Virginia DWI defense attorney who can tailor a defense strategy to the facts of your case in order to give you the best chance at beating these charges. The following information about the consequences of a DUI/DWI conviction in the state should underscore the importance of having an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer on your side.
You Will Have a Criminal Record
Under Virginia law (Code of Va. § 18.2-266), DUI/DWI charges are criminal charges. Accordingly, if you are convicted of a DUI—whether you are a first-time or a subsequent offender—you will have a criminal record in connection with your conviction. And if you are convicted a third or subsequent time for driving while intoxicated, you will have a felony conviction on your record. To be clear, DUI/DWIs are usually charged as misdemeanor offenses, but they can be charged as felony offenses for a third or subsequent offense.
Having a criminal record can have long-lasting consequences. You might be required to disclose information about previous convictions or your criminal record when you apply for certain jobs, and if your job requires driving, a DUI conviction likely means you will be ineligible for the position. Depending upon the details of the criminal record, a criminal record can also limit a person’s ability to obtain certain forms of credit or loans.
You Could Be Facing Jail Time, and a Term of Imprisonment Could Be Mandatory
Beyond having a criminal record, there are immediate penalties for a DUI/DWI conviction under Virginia law (Code of Va. § 18.2-270).
If you are a first-time offender and you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher but less than 0.15 percent, you will have a class 1 misdemeanor on your record, and you will face a sentence of up to 12 months in jail, a driver’s license suspension of up to 12 months, and a fine of up to $2,500. If your BAC is between .15 and .20, you will face at least 5 days in jail as a requirement under Virginia law. If you had a BAC over .20, you will have a mandatory jail term of at least 10 days.
Penalties for a second offense will include many of the same penalties listed above, and you will be required to serve at least 10 days in jail and could face a driver’s license suspension of up to 3 years. A third or subsequent offense is a class 6 felony, which means you will be required to serve a minimum of 6 months in jail and could face a prison term of up to 5 years. You will also be assessed a fine of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, and your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 3 years with the possibility of a permanent loss of driving privileges.
You Could Lose Your Driving Privileges
To reiterate a point we just made above, in addition to monetary fines and jail terms, any DUI will result in a suspension of your driver’s license and, thus, your driving privileges. Depending upon your history of DWI convictions, you could permanently lose your right to drive.
Contact a Northern Virginia DUI Defense Lawyer
If you are facing DUI/DWI charges in Northern Virginia, you should seek representation from a Manassas DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. It is critical to get started on your defense as quickly as possible. Contact Family Law Group today.