Charged with DUI or DWI in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield or Hanover, Virginia?
Fighting the consequences of a DUI DWI charge is a complicated task, especially for college or university students, military service members or individuals who make a living on the road, including truckers with CDL licenses. Having the guidance of an experienced Richmond, VA DUI attorney can increase your chances of successfully defending your driving privileges.
Virginia is tough on drunk drivers, and with good reason. One out of every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash during their lives. Alcohol-related injuries occur about every two minutes, and fatalities occur every 32 minutes, on average. That is why it’s important to know the facts about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and to avoid this behavior entirely.
If you’ve never had a DUI or DWI, you might not realize that it’s not a traffic violation―it’s a criminal offense! You’ll be handcuffed, carted off to the police station, and required to go to court. If you want to plead innocent and fight the charge, you will probably want to hire a Richmond DUI attorney to defend you.
Drunk driving refers to driving (a motor vehicle, boat, or watercraft) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at a level where you can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). This is 0.08% in Richmond, Virginia.
Impaired driving means that your skills, including judgment, coordination, and response time, are affected before your BAC reaches that level, or if you are using drugs.
You can be convicted of DUI in Richmond, VA if your BAC is less than 0.08%. For example, if there is proof that you are under the influence of drugs (even legal prescription or over-the-counter drugs) that impair your driving, you can be arrested for DUI with a BAC of zero.
You can’t choose what type of chemical test to take when you’re pulled over for probable cause (or another traffic offense) and if Richmond, VA law enforcement suspects you’re intoxicated. You must take the breath test, and refusing to do so is a misdemeanor.
If you have either a prior conviction for refusing the breath test or a prior DUI conviction, refusing the breath test again carries a three-year license suspension penalty. If you are involved in an accident and law enforcement has probable cause to believe you were drunk, they can arrest you for DUI―without a warrant, anywhere, and anytime within three hours.
Administrative License Suspension
In addition to the license suspension imposed by the courts for a Richmond, Virginia DUI conviction or for refusing a breath test, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles imposes its own suspensions. These suspensions happen the moment you are arrested―before you go to court.
For your first Richmond DUI offense and/or refusal of a breath test, when your BAC is 0.08% or higher, your license is automatically suspended for seven days. For a second Richmond DUI offense and/or breath test refusal, your license will be automatically suspended for 60 days or until you go to trial, whichever is first. On your third offense, it gets suspended until you go to trial.
Once you are convicted, you’ll endure another round of consequences―more serious ones. The first time you are convicted of a DUI in Richmond, there is a mandatory fine of at least $250. Your driver’s license will be revoked for one year.
After your second DUI offense, there is a mandatory minimum $500 fine, driver’s license revocation for three years, and possible jail time up to one year. If it is within five years of your first offense, there is a mandatory 20 days in jail―10 days if within 10 years of your first offense.
For your third DUI offense, there is a mandatory $1,000 minimum fine and an indefinite license revocation. You will be prosecuted for a Class 6 felony. If it’s within five years of your previous DUI, there is a mandatory six-month jail term. Within 10 years, the mandatory jail term is 90 days. Either way, you will also permanently forfeit your vehicle, if you are the sole owner.
When your blood alcohol concentration is 0.2% or higher when you are arrested, your penalty will include a mandatory minimum 10-day jail sentence in addition to your other penalties. The second such offense within 10 years carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days in addition to the other penalties.
If you have two drunk driving convictions within 10 years, you must install an ignition interlock system on all vehicles you own either solely or with another person. If you fail to do so, you face a possible Class 1 misdemeanor charge and risk having your license revoked―again―for one year. Plus, you may be put into jail for up to one year and be nailed with a $2,500 fine.
Richmond, Virginia has a Zero Tolerance law for drivers under 21 years old. Anyone under 21 caught driving with as little as a 0.02% BAC can face a $500 fine, a six-month license suspension, and jail time. Those under 21 who drive under the influence of drugs or with a BAC of 0.08% or greater are subject to the same penalties as those over 21, listed above.
The Virginia DMV’s brochure, It Can’t Happen To Me, explains the Virginia DUI laws and penalties in greater detail. It also covers other alcohol-related offenses, such as minors in possession of alcohol, open-container laws, and using a fake ID to buy alcohol. The DMV’s drinking and driving page can also lead you to more facts, statistics, myths, and resources on the topic.
Because a DUI charge is a serious criminal offense, consider consulting an attorney who specializes in DUI cases before you go to trial. Many DUI lawyers will give you a free initial consultation, so you can be a little more informed before you decide how to proceed.
Remember, having the guidance of an experienced Richmond DUI DWI lawyer can increase your chances of successfully defending your driving privileges if you’ve been charged with a Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield or Hanover Virginia DUI DWI.