A first-time DUI offense in Virginia is a Class I misdemeanor, which could carry a fine as high as $2,500 and a maximum jail sentence of 12 months if convicted. Typically, a first-time DUI conviction comes with a one-year driver’s license suspension and a minimum $250 fine. Some penalties depend on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of the offense:
- An individual with a BAC under 0.15 percent does not have a mandatory minimum requirement by law and most of the time does not incur jail time, but it is case specific and depends on your circumstances.
- A BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 percent requires you to serve a minimum of five (5) days in jail, if convicted.
- A BAC over 0.20 percent carries a mandatory minimum of ten (10) days in jail, if convicted.
If convicted, the court’s discretionary elements of your sentence are dictated by several different factors:
- Your prior driving record
- Your BAC
- Whether you had a passenger in the car (special concern paid to minors)
- Was there a collision or accident
- Were there any injuries
The court will also require you to enroll in an Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) if you wish to obtain a restricted license. ASAP can assign you to education classes spread over 10 weeks or refer you to additional substance abuse treatment. If you’re assigned to education classes, you may be granted a restricted driver’s license that will allow you to drive to and from work, school, church, child visitation, medical care, and ASAP classes. This program puts you under probation for one year if it’s your first DUI offense.
Recent changes in Virginia law also requires an ignition interlock device be installed on your primary vehicle, if the court grants your request for a restricted driver’s license. Likewise, the courts have the discretion to restrict the number of hours per day you drive or the number of days per week you drive.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must file a FR-44 when convicted of a DUI/DWI. This document shows your financial responsibility and proof of additional liability insurance beyond the minimum. The coverage requirements are:
- Bodily injury/death of one person: $50,000
- Bodily injury/death of two or more persons: $100,000
- Property damage: $40,000
Having to submit this form through your insurance company will likely raise your auto insurance premiums unless you already have this level of coverage prior to the offense.
A Roanoke DUI conviction and any associated jail time can have an impact on your employment, criminal record, personal finances, and security clearance (if you maintain one). Defending yourself against a DUI is very technical and an experienced defense attorney can help navigate the best strategy moving forward alongside assessing the reliability and credibility of the evidence brought against you and work to minimize the penalties from a DUI charge.
Call a Roanoke DUI Lawyer Today
If you’ve been charged with a DWI / DUI in Virginia, the experienced Roanoke criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment, call us at (540) 343-9349.