Under Virginia law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while influenced by drugs or alcohol, but there are numerous criminal statues that outline specific penalties. When you’re pulled over, a police officer might charge you with either a DUI or a DWI. Although they might seem like different offenses, they are essentially the same. A DUI means that you’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while a DWI means that you’re driving while being influenced by alcohol. This page will discuss the most common questions that individuals who are charged with a DUI/DWI may have. For more specific information on Virginia DUI/DWI laws and penalties, please review:
Under Virginia law, what’s the legal driving limit?
Virginia code §18.2-266 has different legal limits for different substances. The common legal limit that most people know about is the blood alcohol level for driving, which is .08 or above. If you’re BAC, or blood alcohol concentrations is .08 or above, you can be charged with a DWI or DUI. There are also limits for drugs as well. Drivers can be charged with DUI if they have over .02 milligrams of cocaine in their system per liter of blood. Other drugs like meth, PCP and ecstasy have limits too. Per one liter of blood, a BAC of .1 milligrams of meth, .1 mg of ecstasy and .01 mg of PCP can result in a DUI too.
Does a DUI result from any drinking at all?
If you have been pulled over as the result of drinking, then it’s possible you could be charged with a DUI even if you’re BAC is less than .08. If your driving was impaired by drugs or alcohol, you could be charged without being at or above the legal limit.
Can over the counter medicines result in a DUI?
Any substance that impairs your ability to drive can be the cause of a DUI charge. That includes cough syrups and allergy medicines. Driving under the influence of drugs, even if they are over the counter, can be enough to influence and impair your driving capabilities.
Will a DUI charge send me to jail?
If this is your first charge and you had a BAC level below .15, a competent lawyer can help you avoid jail time. If it’s not your first offense, it might be harder to avoid going to jail. In many cases, the second DUI offense or third DUI offense comes with a mandatory jail sentence. Those with a BAC higher than .15 might also face jail time, even if it’s the first offense.
Can a DUI charge result in the loss of my license?
In Virginia, if you’re convicted of a DUI, your license will be suspended. The law demands a suspension but there are also restricted licenses that will allow you to drive to work or school as well as drive your children to school. With a restricted license, you’ll have to agree to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. The mandatory suspension is extended each time you are convicted of a DUI too. After at least three convictions, your license can be revoked permanently with no chance for restricted privileges. For more comprehensive information on the Virginia DUI license suspension penalty, read:
What does an ignition interlock device do?
The device is installed in your vehicle, or a vehicle you drive regularly, to measure your BAC before it’ll allow you to start the vehicle. If your blood alcohol content is over .02, the vehicle will not start.
Is an ignition interlock mandatory?
If you want the judge to let you get a restricted license so you can continue working and driving your children around, then you have to install the ignition interlock on your vehicle. If you have been conviction of a DUI more than once, you are required to install the ignition interlock system even if you do not request a restricted license. The court will not pay for the system. You will have to pay for it yourself.
Will my commercial driver’s license be revoked after a DUI?
In Virginia, you could lose your CDL temporarily if you’ve been convicted of a DUI even if it occurred in your personal vehicle. If you have more than one conviction of a DUI while driving in a commercial vehicle, you could lose your CDL permanently.
How do I get to work after a DUI?
After a conviction for a DUI, you’ll need to get a restricted license to drive yourself to work. This is only possible for your first or second offense depending on how long between convictions. You could get a restricted license almost immediately for a first conviction, but if you’ve had repeat offenses, you’ll have a harder time getting a restricted license. You might have to wait months or years for one.
After a DUI conviction, how do I get my license back?
The suspension could be a year or longer. You’ll have to wait for the period of suspension to end, or apply for a restricted license. The Department of Motor Vehicles can give you a list of required documents that are specific to your case. You’ll also have to pay fees and show proof of insurance. A revoked license requires a new license, which includes the driver’s test again.
What is SR-22 insurance and do I need it?
Some states require drivers who have been convicted of a DUI to have SR-22 insurance on their vehicles. This insurance is for drivers who are considered high risk. Virginia is stricter about convicted drivers bearing their financial responsibility and require drivers to carry FR-44 insurance, which has coverage limits of $100,000 for injury or death of two or more people, $40,000 for property and $50,000 for death or injury of one person.
Will a DUI ruin my security clearance status?
Whether you have a job now that requires security clearance, or are applying for one, most employers have a problem with a government employee who has a DUI. Security clearance can be denied for employees or contractors who have a DUI on their record in the past. It can be a cause for concern since alcohol abuse might mean the person is unreliable in handling confidential topics.
What are DUI defenses in Virginia?
Although every case is different, there are certain defenses that may be used if you are charged with a DUI/DWI in Virginia. A licensed legal professional should be able to analyze the details of your case and construct a legal defense that will encourage a less severe penalty in addition to protecting your individual rights guaranteed to you by law. A violation of your rights could result in a penalty that is more severe than your violation. To learn more about potential defenses to a DUI/DWI charge in Virginia, contact The Brown Firm PLLC online to discuss your case or, review: