In Virginia, if you are accused of impaired driving then you can be charged with either driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), though they are essentially the same. A DUI charge is serious for several reasons, but this offense has the added consequence of impacting your ability to drive, in addition to jail time and a permeant conviction.
While a DUI in Roanoke, VA is significant, there is a lot an experienced DUI lawyer can do to help. Police routinely make mistakes when pulling people over, sobriety tests are famously inaccurate, and a capable attorney can negotiate for a result that protects your license or gets your DUI reduced- maybe even dismissed.
Don’t merely accept a guilty plea and deal with a license suspension after a Roanoke DUI charge. Discuss all your options with the experienced DUI lawyers at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico. Call (540) 343-9349 for a free consultation.
Roanoke DUI Overview
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle, boat, or watercraft if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that your driving ability is impaired. VA Code Section 18.2-266 outlines the blood concentrations that are illegal based on substance:
- Alcohol: 0.08 percent or higher
- Cocaine: 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood
- Methamphetamine (crystal meth): 0.1 milligrams per liter of blood
- Phencyclidine (PCP): 0.01 milligrams per liter of blood
- 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy): 0.1 milligrams per liter of blood
However, you can be arrested for DUI if your blood concentrations are lower and your driving ability is impaired or erratic or if you have taken other drugs that affect your driving ability.
DUI Charges & Penalties
The precise charges and penalties for a DUI in Virginia depend on whether it’s your first DUI offense or a subsequent one, as well as your BAC at the time.
A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor in Virginia. There is a mandatory one-year license suspension, but restricted driving privileges are possible and an ignition interlock can be installed for up to 6 months. When your BAC is .15% or higher, there is a mandatory five-day incarceration period. This increases to 10 days for a BAC of .21% or higher.
A 2nd DUI within 5 years is still a misdemeanor, but the license suspension is for 36 months. There is no option for restricted driving privileges and a 20-day mandatory sentence.
A second DUI within ten years means a three-year license suspension, but you’re eligible for a restricted license after four months. The mandatory sentence for a second DUI within ten years is 10 days with a mandatory Ignition interlock device for at least six months.
Your third DUI in Roanoke within 10 years is a Class 6 felony. After a 3rd DUI, you will lose your license indefinitely, only becoming eligible for a restricted license after three years and restoration after five. There is a mandatory minimum of 90 days for a third DUI within 10 years and six months for a third DUI within five years.
After a third or subsequent DUI, the offense automatically becomes a felony. A felony DUI charge will also likely follow situations in which someone was injured or killed in a DUI accident. Felony DUI convictions result in indefinite license suspension and a one-year minimum sentence.
DUI Tests, Your Rights & Refusals
When you’re pulled over for a suspected DUI in Roanoke or anywhere in the Commonwealth, the police do not know you’re impaired. They likely noticed you swerving or some other driving behavior they deemed as suspicious. But to charge you for DUI, they need evidence that you’re impaired or above the legal limit.
This evidence often comes after someone submits to field sobriety and other DUI tests. Remember that field sobriety tests and portable roadside breath tests are not mandatory in Virginia. The only required blood and breath tests are in accordance with Virginia’s implied consent law if you are placed under arrest for DUI, and refusals are punished harshly.
How a Roanoke DUI Lawyer Can Help
Regardless of what a police officer or prosecutor tells you about your DUI case, there is a lot an experienced DUI defense lawyer can do to improve your situation. Early intervention from a lawyer who knows the local courts and where to look for weaknesses can make the entire process easier. By challenging the initial DUI stop, refuting the evidence collected, and negotiating for a favorable outcome, a DUI lawyer can make a big impact on your case.
With a lawyers help form the beginning you can get your car out of impound, work to protect your license, and build a strong DUI defense.
With decades of experience and a record of success in DUI cases across the Roanoke region, Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico knows how to dispute faulty DUI tests, move you through the process fast, and pursue the best possible outcome. This could keep your record clear, your license in good standing, and spare you from time behind bars.
Call a Roanoke DUI Lawyer Today
If you’ve been charged with a DWI / DUI in Southwest Virginia, let Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico evaluate the details and your options. This could lead to a drastic reduction, a dismissal, and your best chance at moving on. For an free and confidential consultation, call our Roanoke office at (540) 343-9349.