Facing a first-time DUI charge is a stressful experience. You don’t know the legal process, consequences, or how it can impact the rest of your life.
Every state has different laws for DUI. In Virginia, here’s what you can expect after a first-offense DUI.
Driving Under The Influence
In order to be charged with a DUI, the officer must be able to prove that you are intoxicated behind the wheel. There are two main tests that officers use during a DUI stop: breath tests and field sobriety tests.
A breath test would involve blowing into a breathalyzer. If you are above the legal BAC limit of .08%, you will be charged with DUI.
During a field sobriety test, the officer will observe your behavior for signs of intoxication.
The following behaviors may lead the officer to determine you are impaired include:
- Swaying back and forth
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty balancing
A first-offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for this include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Minimum of $250 in fines, up to a maximum of $2,500
- 1-year driver’s license suspension
- Ignition interlock device
- Mandatory completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP)
What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?
This device is a breathalyzer that is built into your vehicle. In vehicles where this is installed, the driver must take and pass a breath test before the vehicle can be started. The device may also prompt the driver to take tests as they are driving.
As of July 2020, individuals convicted of DUI one time were allowed to choose to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car and keep their ability to drive. As of July 2021, this was extended to repeat DUI offenders.
While a first-time DUI is usually a misdemeanor offense, certain aggravating factors present at the time of arrest can lead to increased penalties, or even felony charges.
Significantly High BAC
If you are slightly over .08% BAC, you will likely face standard misdemeanor charges and penalties. However, a BAC of over .15% is considered substantial. This high of a BAC requires a five-day mandatory minimum jail sentence. For perspective, it would take a 100-pound person about 3-4 drinks within one hour to reach this high of a BAC.
DUI Resulting in an Accident
These penalties may become even more severe if the accident was a hit and run, or if the accident resulted in someone’s death. In that case, you may even face homicide charges.
If you are pulled over for DUI while going significantly faster than the speed limit (i.e., 55 mph in a 30 mph zone), you may get additional jail time if convicted.
Child In The Car
Children can’t make an informed decision about getting in the car with a drunk driver. If you are arrested for DUI with a child in the car, you will face elevated penalties for endangering the child.
Even after your fines are paid, your time is served, and your license is reinstated, you will still have a DUI conviction on your criminal record. This can have long-term impacts on your life, such as:
- Inability to work in certain fields
- Difficulty finding work
- Difficulty traveling
- Social implications or embarrassment
In Virginia, DUIs are not eligible for expungement. Once you have a conviction, it will be permanent on your record.
Virginia DUI Defense
At Tillotson & Martin, LLC, we do everything in our power to save you from a DUI conviction. Give us a call today at (757) 568-7978 to set up an initial consultation where we can discuss all circumstances of your first-time DUI arrest.