When you receive your first DWI or DUI conviction in the state of Virginia, it is not to be taken lightly. If you are caught driving while intoxicated, you will have be charged with a criminal offense and will have a permanent criminal record.If you are convicted, you could be dealing with high fines and time in jail, and you could lose your driving privileges. Not only does a conviction carry immediate unwanted penalties, but it can also negatively affect your long-term future. A DUI conviction could have an impact on your ability to obtain credit, achieve security clearance, or even get a job.
Fines and Jail Time for First DUI Offense
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a first conviction for driving under the influence is a Class 1 misdemeanor, under Virginia Code §18.2-270. This can result in up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. There is a mandatory fine minimum of $250. Additionally, there are penalties that vary based on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was measured when you were caught driving while intoxicated.
If your BAC is between .15 and .20, you will have to be in jail for a minimum of five days. If it is higher than .20, an additional 10 days will be added on to that. If it is less than .15, there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence under Virginia Code §18.2-270. However, if you have a history of other driving offenses or were in a collision while you were intoxicated (particularly if anyone was hurt), it may be more complicated. To learn more about repeat DUI/DWI convictions and serious DUI violations, read:
Losing Your Driving Privileges
When you receive your first DUI conviction, you will lose your driver’s license for one year. Under Virginia Code §18.2-271, this is in addition to any administrative suspension that could have been assigned by other behaviors, such as refusing to take a breathalyzer test. It may be possible to obtain a restricted driver’s license; some people are able to get these so that they can drive to and from certain essential locations. However, the court would need to approve this, and an ignition interlock device would be installed in your car; your blood alcohol concentration will be analyzed when you enter the vehicle, and you will not be able to start your car with a BAC above .02.
Alcohol Education Requirement
Another requirement when convicted of driving while intoxicated is going through an alcohol safety action program, unless it is decided by the court that it is not appropriate in your case. If you have to do this, you will be required to pay the $250 to $300 (depending on program) in entry fees for the program.
After a conviction, you will be required to show that your insurance company is aware of your DUI/DWI conviction. This is done by completing form FR-44. You will be required to provide proof that you are insured as a “high risk” individual. Being classified as high risk will require that you are insured with certain minimum limits for property damage and bodily injury/death in order to resume normal driving activities. If a FR-44 is not filed, you will not be able to regain legal driving privileges.
Lowering or Dropping Charges
If you have received your first DUI/DWI charge in Virginia, it is not recommended that you proceed without legal assistance. Because penalties and fines increase depending on the seriousness of the violation, it is always best to receive the least sever charge possible. In some cases, there may be grounds to have a DUI/DWI charge dismissed entirely due to the way the traffic stop and DUI/DWI investigation were conducted. However, lowering charges or having DUI/DWI charges completely dropped will require a well developed legal defense strategy. To learn more about defending a DUI/DWI charge in Virginia, read:
We are Ready to Help You
An first time DUI/DWI conviction is a serious matter. Entering court proceedings without qualified legal representation does not improve your chances of receiving less severe charges. In fact, you risk of receiving more serious charges. The DUI defense lawyers of The Brown Firm PLLC have extensive experience defending against DUI/DWI charges in court. We are prepared to aggressively defend your rights so that you receive the best result possible. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.