Most people are well aware that drunk driving is illegal in Virginia and every other state, but they may not know the details of the law. For example, law enforcement can arrest you on suspicion of DUI if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08%. You can also face charges if there is an open container of alcohol in your car and you show signs of impairment. And those are just a couple of ways to be accused.
Receiving a DUI conviction on your criminal record comes with legal, financial and personal repercussions. Knowing the specific aspects of drunk driving charges can help you be more aware of the issue, make better choices and be ready in case you ever get in trouble with the law. Here are the penalties you can expect for a first DUI offense.
Fines and potential jail time
Virginia law considers a first-time DUI as a class 1 misdemeanor. The offense requires a mandatory minimum fine of $250, but it can go up to $2,500. There is no mandatory jail time for a first-offense DUI. However, these penalties may be increased by numerous factors, like if there is a minor in the vehicle, your BAC is 0.15% or higher or you cause an accident.
License revocation and alcohol-program attendance
Your first DUI conviction will result in you losing your license for one year. In order to get your driving privileges back, you must complete an alcohol safety program that involves screening, oversight and education.
Ignition interlock device
The court or DMV may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicles you operate after a DUI first offense. That costs money.
How to defend yourself against DUI charges
It is possible to avoid these penalties following a first DUI charge. You may be able to get the court to dismiss your case or you may be able to plea bargain to a lesser charge, and other options may be available, too. Be sure you understand the possibilities.