Virginia DUI Basics
The legal limit for blood alcohol content in the United States is 0.08
percent. In Virginia this limit is decreased to 0.04 percent for all
those who drive commercial vehicles. All those under the age of
twenty-one are considered minors in regards to alcohol consumption and
will subsequently be arrested if they have blood alcohol content levels
above 0.02 percent.
Driving under the influence offenses can be prosecuted in one of two
ways. The first is through impairment where the prosecution will
attempt to prove to the court that the individual was impaired while
driving. Impairment can include alcohol, drugs, or drugs and alcohol
together. Evidence will be brought before the court and can include
driving patterns, physical appearance, blood alcohol content levels,
and field sobriety tests. The second is through per se law where the
prosecution will attempt to prove that an individual had a blood
alcohol content above the legal limit.
The state of Virginia has a washout period of ten years. A washout
period states that after ten years, or five in some states, a prior
offense cannot be used to aggravate a current offense.
A new offense will be treated like a first offense under this law.
Punishments for driving under the influence are based on these prior
offenses. The more offenses an individual has on his or her record, the
harsher his or her punishments will become. Aggravating circumstances
can also increase a sentence. These can include harming another,
driving over the speed limit, driving with a minor in the motor
vehicle, and driving with a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit.
In Virginia first and second driving under the influence offenses are
considered misdemeanor offenses. Their penalties may vary depending on
any aggravating factors. A first offense can earn a fine of no less
than two hundred fifty dollars, driver's license suspension, and
Incarceration sentences vary in Virginia and are based on blood alcohol
content. If a minor under seventeen was in the motor vehicle or the
individual had a blood alcohol content above 0.15 percent but lower
than 0.20 percent, then he or she will have at least a five-day
sentence in jail. If an individual has a blood alcohol content above
0.20 percent then he or she will have a jail sentence of no less than
A second driving under the influence offense can earn at least a five
hundred-dollar fine, up to one year in jail, three years of driver's
license suspension, and an ignition interlock device. If a minor under
the age of seventeen was in the motor vehicle, the offender will also
earn community service.
A third or subsequent offense is considered a felony in Virginia.
Penalties for drunken driving felonies include no less than a one
thousand-dollar fine, at least ninety days in jail, driver's license
suspension, motor vehicle forfeiting, and ignition interlock devices. A
jail sentence can increase to a minimum of six months if a third
offense was committed within five years of a prior offense.