Drunk Driving Penalties
What are the Penalties for a Drunken Driving Conviction?
It will depend on whether it is the first, second, or third offense. If it is a first offense DUI with a breath or blood test [showing a BAC of] up to 0.15, then the maximum penalty is up to twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500 dollar fine and a loss of license for twelve months. If the breath or blood result is 0.15 to 0.20, there are a mandatory five days in jail, and if it is above a 0.20 there are a mandatory ten days in jail.
Long-Term Ramifications of Drunken Driving Convictions
The long-term ramifications depend on the specific situation. For some it could mean loss of employment, if you lose your license or job. If you have a commercial driver’s license you will probably lose your job because you are not going to be able to have that license. It is specific to each individual.
A third offense in Virginia is a felony, and even if someone has a DUI from another state, that can be used as a predicate offense in Virginia as a felony, so that is different from other states. In DC, there is no felony offense based on the number of DUIs.
There are many administrative penalties that an individual may face if convicted of a DUI in Virginia. For a first time offense, you can petition for a restricted license to be able to drive to and from work, or to and from school. There are very limited exceptions for when and where you can drive. You can petition the court, but you have to get an ignition interlock device installed in your car to be able to use that restricted license. An ignition interlock device is a device that a person has to blow into before the car will start, and if the device detects the presence of alcohol, the car will not start.
There are a lot of different issues that surround ignition interlock. It is monitored and supervised by the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), which is a local probation office that a DUI offender has to be supervised by, and they require the offender to go to education treatment. If they have a restricted license [VASAP] also monitors the data from the ignition interlock. That machine is hooked up to a computer database that records all the attempts a person makes when they blow into the machine to start their car.
Public Knowledge and DUI Charges
The fact that you were arrested, never mind convicted, is public knowledge and is available to anyone. If you are convicted, it is public record and also cannot be expunged. A common misconception is that convictions can somehow, at some point in time, be expunged, but that is not true in Virginia, beyond the Governor’s pardon, and that is very rare.
There is no probation before judgment for DUI cases like in Maryland. There is no way to plead guilty to DUI and then earn a dismissal of the charge by doing probation; that does not exist in Virginia.
It also depends on your employment situation. If you have a contract that says you must disclose an arrest, then the terms of the contract will prevail. If your employer finds out that you were arrested and you did not tell them, then that is a breach of the contract and it can be terminated. If you have a security clearance, there are different rules depending on the type of clearance.
Most security clearances require someone to disclose that they have been summoned to court for a particular reason. Each person has a different situation. A lawyer will advise people on those issues and will discuss them, because it is not only what happens in the courtroom that is important to people; but also how it will affect their daily life. These are routine questions and issues that a lawyer will go over with their clients.