Driving under the influence in Virginia is always a serious legal issue with some potentially far-reaching implications, no matter what. While a DUI in Virginia is normally labeled as a misdemeanor, the impact can still be severe. There are also certain circumstances in which a Virginia DUI can be escalated into a more severe classification as a felony.
As opposed to a misdemeanor, a felony DUI conviction will mean more in fines and considerably longer sentences if time in custody is required. Being charged with a felony DUI in VA will depend on factors such as how many previous DUIs are already on your record or if you caused a DUI-related accident where someone was injured or killed.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony may not seem significant, but avoiding a felony on your record, will reduce your exposure and the impact on your life. If you are facing a felony DUI charge in Virginia, it can feel like the world is against you and that nothing can help. However, with a well-planned strategy, you can greatly improve your circumstances. An experienced Roanoke DUI lawyer can be an extremely useful resource if you hope to reduce the charge, secure a dismissal, or an otherwise favorable result.
Contact Copenhaver, Ellett, & Derrico to discuss the details and how we can help if you’ve been charged with a felony DUI or any impaired driving offense in Virginia. Call (540) 343-9349 or fill out our online form to schedule a free, initial consultation.
Your First Virginia DUI Will Likely Be Classified As a Misdemeanor
Under the Virginia Administrative Code, your first DUI conviction will be considered a Class One misdemeanor. This carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and a mandatory minimum of $250. These amounts and your other potential penalties can increase depending on the level of your intoxication and other aggravating factors. For instance, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is found to be between 0.15 and 0.2, you can be sentenced to a minimum of five days in jail. If your BAC was over 0.2, the minimum jail time increases to 10 days.
At What Point Does a Virginia DUI Become a Felony?
For the most part, the number of previous DUI convictions on your record and the time in between these convictions will play a significant role in how your most recent DUI is classified. In Virginia, a third DUI conviction within ten years will be considered a Class Six felony. While Class Six is the least severe category, the punishments are still very severe. In addition to a haunting felony conviction and any ramifications to your driving record, the fine for a Class Six felony is between $1,000 and $5,000 with a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days’ incarceration. If your three offenses occurred within five years of each other, you would be incarcerated for a minimum of six months.
Other Circumstances Under Which Your Virginia DUI Is a Felony
If you are convicted of a fourth DUI in Virginia within 10 years, your offense will also be considered a Class Six felony, but your minimum penalties will increase. Your mandatory imprisonment will be for no less than one year, in addition to the $1,000 minimum fine. Furthermore, if you’ve been convicted of certain offenses related to a DUI, your conviction will be classified as a felony. These offenses are:
- Involuntary manslaughter committed while driving intoxicated;
- Causing serious bodily injury or physical impairment while driving intoxicated; and
- A previous DUI conviction that was classified as a felony.
Know Your Charges: Discuss Your Case With a Lawyer
A knowledgeable DUI lawyer in Virginia will be able to help you determine which DUI charges you’re up against and how best to handle the matter. A lot depends on your record and level of intoxication, so to discuss the possibility of reducing or avoiding a felony DUI charge in VA, contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico as soon as possible.