If you have questions concerning DUI charges, laws or penalties in Virginia, you have come to the right place. Curcione Law has all the answers you need to know to navigate through a DUI case successfully. Below, we have compiled some of the most common questions concerning DUI for your benefit:
What constitutes a drunk driving charge in Virginia?
If your blood alcohol is 0.08% or higher and you were caught behind the wheel, you can be charged for driving under the influence. Because Virginia is not a per se state, a defendant with a blood alcohol test reading of 0.08% or above can present evidence that he/she was not intoxicated, despite the test results.
Do I have to take a breath or chemical test?
The implied consent law in Virginia says that as a condition of driving in Virginia, you are required to take a chemical test if there is probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. If your refusal is deemed unreasonable, your driving privileges will be taken away (as a result of the civil offense of "Refusing to Submit"). At trial, you can be charged for both DUI and Refusal to Submit.
If convicted of Refusal to Submit, you will have your driving privileges revoked for a year. A benefit of refusal however is that the prosecution will have to prove you were driving under the influence without incriminating chemical evidence to support their argument. If you previously refused to submit to a breath or blood test and were previously convicted of DUI, you can expect to lose your driver's license for three years. The refusal then becomes a criminal charge and you could face anywhere from six months to one year in jail.
What is the first thing I should do after being arrested for DUI?
The most important thing is to remain silent. You do not have to answer any police questions before securing the representation of a DUI lawyer. You do not want to incriminate yourself and jeopardize your case! After you secure legal defense, you should inform your attorney how you were first pulled over. If police did not have probable cause to pull you over, your case can be dismissed. You will also want to inform your attorney about what tests you took.
Don't forget to tell your lawyer about any conditions that could have led to your arrest, i.e., you were sleep deprived, you have a health condition that caused you to perform poorly on your field sobriety test, etc. Make sure you inform your lawyer whether this is your first DUI offense or subsequent one as this will impact the defense he/she uses. For more information on why hiring a DUI lawyer is important and what qualities you should look for in an attorney, see below.
What are the penalties in Virginia for DUI?
Virginia DUI law (section § 18.2-270) states that DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. For a first offense, while there is no minimum jail term required, you could face a jail sentence up to one year and a fine up to $2500. Your license will be suspended for a year and you will have to attend an alcohol education program (known as Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program). You may have to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
If you are convicted of a second offense within five years, you will spend a minimum of 10 to 20 days in jail, you will have your license suspended for three years and you will have to attend the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. If the court deems it necessary, you may have to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
For a third offense within 10 years, this is a class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison (with a minimum sentence of three months). You will also have to attend the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program and could have to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. For a third offense within five to 10 years, this is a felony which requires a mandatory minimum sentence of six months, a mandatory fine of $1,000 and your vehicle can be seized by the state. Furthermore, the court may require you to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
For a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years, this is a felony. You will face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year, a mandatory fine of $1,000, a license suspension up to three years, your vehicle can be seized and your license can ultimately be suspended indefinitely. You may also be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
No matter what charge you face, whether it is your first DUI offense or your fourth, DUI is a serious charge that will tarnish your record, your reputation and your livelihood (from education to employment opportunities). Thankfully, with an aggressive and experienced DUI attorney on your side, you may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
What are considered aggravating factors in Virginia?
While a regular DUI can come with severe penalties, an aggravated DUI comes with even more severe repercussions. If you were transporting a minor at the time you were charged with DUI, if you had an especially high BAC level (the punishment increases once for any BAC level over .15% and again for a BAC level above .20%), or if you caused injury or death (known as vehicular manslaughter).
If you are accused of transporting a minor, you could be charged with both DUI and child endangerment. Even if you are a first time offender, you could face extreme penalties if your charge involved an aggravating circumstance. If you have been charged with aggravated DUI, it is especially imperative that you secure competent legal defense immediately.
How can I get my license back?
If you are convicted of a DUI in Virginia, you will have to pay court costs and fines, attend a driver improvement clinic and complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program before you can reinstate your driver's license. After you have done this, you will have to pay the reinstatement fees, provide the DMV with your medical and vision reports and receive a court order permitting restricted driving privileges. You will also have to provide the DMV with a completed SR-22 form.
Don't allow your driving privileges to be taken without a fight. After you have been charged with DUI, it is imperative that you act quickly to protect your right to drive. You can set up a DMV hearing to present your case concerning why you should be allowed to keep your driving privileges.
Will a DUI conviction affect my insurance rate?
An SR-22 insurance is required in Virginia after you are convicted of DUI. This insurance means that you are 'high risk' and insurance companies will as a result charge you more, since they are taking on a higher risk.
If I am a commercial driver, how could a DUI impact me?
If you have a commercial driver's license and have been charged with DUI in Virginia, you need to be aware that you will likely suffer more if you are convicted of this charge. There are additional penalties that CDL drivers face:
If I am underage, what penalties do I face?
If you are under the age of 21 and were arrested for DUI, you could be charged with "Underage DUI," which in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor (§ 18.2-266.1). If you are convicted of this crime, you could face up to 12 months in jail and be fined $2,500. The Virginia Legislature requires a minimum fine of $500 or in lieu of a fine, 50 hours of community service.
You will also face a license suspension for one year. Because the Virginia Legislature increased the penalties for underage DUI offenders in 2008 (the new laws kicked in summer 2010), underage DUI offenders now face penalties almost as tough as individuals charged with standard DUI.
What if I was arrested for drugged driving?
It is not uncommon for drivers to be charged with driving under the influence of drugs (which can make someone as impaired as driving under the influence of alcohol). This trend is on the rise; women are often found under the influence of narcotics and depressants and men have been frequently found under the influence of cannabinoids and stimulants.
If you are convicted for driving under the influence of drugs, you will face jail time, fines and a driver's license suspension, similar to individuals charged with DUI. The only difference is that you will most likely be forced to take a blood or urine test and a drug expert may be brought in to discuss the evidence. Establishing that someone was driving under the influence of drugs can be more difficult, as there is not hard and straight ground rule (unlike DUI, which establishes that if someone is driving with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher, he/she is driving under the influence of alcohol).
In Virginia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of certain drugs in one's system.
Are DUI checkpoints legal in Virginia?
Police do periodically set up checkpoints in Virginia. However, several laws and procedures must be followed to the T in order for these roadblocks to be legal. Some of these laws and procedures include:
If you were charged with DUI at a checkpoint, Curcione Law can make sure that the roadblock was set up legally and that officers followed the right protocol. If any shortcuts were made and police violated your rights, your charge could be dismissed or reduced.
Can I get a DUI expunged off of my record?
Landlords, potential employers and other important individuals have access to your criminal record, so if you have been charged with driving under the influence you should consider getting your record expunged. How does this work? In order to have a DUI charge expunged off of your record, you must have been acquitted in court, had your case dismissed or have no prior record.
An expungement allows your criminal record to remain unavailable to a potential employer, bank officer or other official (the only exception is law personnel). Speak with a DUI attorney today to find out whether or not you qualify for an expungement.
What if I was just passing through Virginia when I got charged with DUI?
If you are an out of town driver facing a DUI charge in Virginia, Curcione Law can assist you. Keep in mind that even though you were charged with driving under the influence in Virginia, this can have adverse implications on you in your home state. All states have access to other states' DMV records. A DUI charge in Virginia could result in you losing your license in your home state (not just your driving privileges in Virginia). Contact Curcione Law today to find out more about out of state DUIs, how to minimize the inconvenience of this charge (the firm would be happy to discuss with you how court appearances and other matters work in an out-of-state DUI case) and how to minimize the negative effects of an out-of-state DUI charge.
What defenses are available to me?
The circumstances surrounding each DUI case are unique, and Curcione Law addresses each case and person individually. No cookie-cutter tactics are used by our team. We evaluate your needs and the factors involved in your case, before crafting any defense. In general, however, defenses that could prove relevant to your case include the following:
To find out about what defenses could best be utilized in your case, contact Curcione Law immediately at (757) 777-9207.
Should I represent myself? Why should I hire a DUI attorney?
As previously discussed, a DUI conviction can wreak havoc on your livelihood, your reputation, your family and your future. While some individuals have chosen in the past to represent themselves in court or have chosen to follow "Do-It-Yourself" guidelines online, it is our belief that this is a very risky endeavor.
The prosecution you go up against will be experienced, and if you do not understand Virginia DUI law, how to discredit the evidence and dismantle the arguments brought against you, you could all too easily be saddled with a DUI conviction. In order to protect your rights in the best manner possible and craft the most compelling defense, it is always advisable to secure the assistance of a legal expert on your side. Do not choose to represent yourself before seeking out the advice of a professional first; you can contact our firm at (757) 777-9207 to get more of our advice on this matter!
What qualities should I look for before hiring a lawyer?
Before hiring an attorney to defend you in your DUI case, it is important that you think through what qualifications make a lawyer skilled, trustworthy and effective. Our suggestions would be to think through the following:
I, Matt Curcione, was a police officer for many years before becoming a criminal defense attorney. This gives me an edge up in court as I know what kinds of evidence and arguments will be used against you. I also have a comprehensive knowledge of the law and will be able to anticipate the prosecution's next move.
Don't make the costly mistake of hiring a substandard attorney or waiting until it's too late to secure competent legal representation. Fill out our free case evaluation today and take the first step to securing qualified legal defense on your side.
If you have any further concerns or questions that this FAQ page did not address, we encourage you to contact our office immediately. Our team is proud of its client-centered approach and of the knowledge and experience we possess when it comes to handling DUI cases.
Contact us at (757) 777-9207 to speak with a qualified Norfolk DUI attorney today!
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