Portsmouth DUI Attorney
Virginia Drunk Driving Legal Defense
A first-time DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI charge (driving under the influence) can be an overwhelming experienced. You could face jail time, fines, and potentially have your license suspended. Although the penalties for a first-time offense are not as severe as subsequent convictions, any DWI or DUI conviction is taken very seriously in Virginia. At Kozak & Davis, P.C., we provide aggressive, results-driven criminal defense representation for clients faced with a first-time DWI/DUI charge or subsequent charges.
Is Jail Time Mandatory for 1st DUI in VA?
No, jail time is not mandatory for a first DUI in Virginia. However, some circumstances may require jail time. For example, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15% or higher, you must serve at least five days in jail. In addition, if you had a juvenile passenger n your car at the time of the arrest, you must do at least ten days in prison.
In addition to jail time, you may also face sentencing of probation, community service, and/or a fine. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car.
What are the DWI and DUI Laws in Virginia?
In Virginia, an individual is considered under the influence if the alcohol and/or drugs taken have impaired the person’s ability to safely operate or drive a vehicle. Virginia’s DWI laws prohibit motorists from diving or operating a vehicle under the following circumstances:
- Under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher
- BAC of .1 milligrams per liter or more of methamphetamine
- BAC of .02 milligrams per liter or more of cocaine
- BAC of .02 milligrams per liter or more of phencyclidine (PCP)
It is illegal in the state for underage drivers (those under the age of 21) to drive or operate a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more.
Can a DUI Be Dismissed in Virginia?
In Virginia, if a police officer lacks any efficient evidence or reasonable suspicion to pull you over, your DUI is considered invalid, and any charges against you will be dismissed. Like other states, Virginia must have "justifiable cause" to stop your vehicle lawfully.
Virginia DWI and DUI Penalties
Virginia DWI penalties vary based on the number of prior convictions you have as well as the circumstances of your case. It is important to note that a DWI conviction will remain on your record for 10 years. Here are some potential penalties you may face for a first, second, and third DWI conviction:
1st DWI Conviction
- Jail time for up to 12 months
- Fines ranging from $250 to $2,500
- License suspended for up to 1 year
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) put on car for a 6-month minimum period
- Jail time between 10 days to 12 months
- Fines ranging from $500 to $2,500
- License suspension for up to 3 years
- IID put on car for a 6-month minimum period
- Jail time between 90 days to 5 years
- Fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,500
- Indefinite license suspension
- IID put on car for a 6-month minimum period
Potential DWI Charge Defenses
It is possible to reduce or potentially dismiss the DWI charges against you with the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney.
Here are some common DWI charge defenses that may be applicable to your case:
1. Invalid stop
- An officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. If it is proven that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or stopped you for some other reason, then your traffic stop may be considered invalid.
2. Invalid arrest
- Following a stop, an officer must have what is known as probable cause to arrest you. Examples of this type of evidence might include the officer’s notes, observations, or the results of field sobriety tests.
3. Find fault in the field test
- If an officer administered a series of field sobriety tests, he/she must have had to follow set guidelines to do so. If the officer did not follow these guidelines appropriately, your results may be considered invalid. Your lawyer could also argue that the field sobriety test was unreliable as other factors could affect your physical ability to drive, such as lack of sleep.
4. Challenge the eye test
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is supposed to uncover whether a person is impaired by alcohol. This test requires the examination of an expert and therefore is sometimes considered inadmissible since obtaining the results of this test is often difficult to do.
5. Challenge the validity of the breath test device
- The Virginia Administrative Code (VAC) has requirements in place for officers to follow when administering a preliminary breath test (PBT). These devices must have a certain error rate to provide an accurate reading.
6. Challenge the blood test
- Virginia requires medical professionals to adhere to specific requirements when administering a blood test. Any violation can render the results inadmissible.
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