Virginia DUI Laws
The state of Virginia is known for having some of the strictest and toughest Driving Under the Influence /Driving While Intoxicated (DUI/DWI) laws in the country. A person is charged with DUI/DWI when they are found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Being under the influence is determined by the accused’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC); which is the percentage of alcohol in the blood stream. In Virginia the legal limit the “per se” BAC is 0.08. There are; however, different limits and penalties for those with an excessive BAC and those under the legal drinking age of twenty-one. The “enhanced penalty” BAC level is 0.2 and the “zero tolerance” penalty for DUI/DWI under the age of twenty-one is 0.02.
For someone twenty-one years or older, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08. When someone is found to be under the influence for the first time it is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a mandatory fine of $250 at a minimum. The penalty for a second DUI/DWI within less than five years of a prior conviction is a mandatory fine of $500 minimum and at least one month, but not more than one year in jail. A second conviction between five and ten years carries a $500 minimum fine and jail time of no less than one month. Further, a second conviction within ten years carries enhanced penalties for an excessive BAC: one with a BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 will receive a mandatory ten days in jail in addition to the mandatory ten days for a second conviction within 10 years. When a person’s BAC is above a 0.20 there is an additional mandatory twenty days jail time. Also, both enhanced penalties carry an additional fine of $500.
The conviction of a third DUI/DWI in a period of ten years is no longer a misdemeanor, but a Class 6 felony. This felony carries a penalty of a minimum of ninety days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000. However, if the third conviction is within five years of prior convictions the minimum jail sentence is six months. And in the event of a fourth conviction within a ten year period there is a minimum jail sentence is one year in addition to a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine. Also, a fourth conviction comes with a probationary period which will extend for the length of the license suspension.
For someone under the age of twenty-one when found to be driving or operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 or more there carries a penalty of license suspension of six months and a fine up to $500. In these cases the district court for juvenile and domestic relations will hand down the penalty.
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