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Virginia DUI Laws

In the commonwealth of Virginia, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug(s) is a serious offense, with increasingly harsh penalties for each subsequent conviction. Feel free to reference our information about

Feel free to reference our information about Virginia DUI lawyers if you need assistance with a DUI charge in Virginia.

Driving Under the Influence (Section 18.2-266)

It is illegal for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle while:

  1. The person has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or more, or;
  2. The person is under the influence of alcohol, or;
  3. The person is under the influence of any drug(s) to such an extent that it impairs the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely, or;
  4. The person is under combined influence of alcohol and any drug(s) to such an extent that it impairs the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely, or;
  5. The person has 0.02 milligram per liter of blood of cocaine, 0.1 milligram of methamphetamine per liter of blood, or 0.01 milligram of PCP per liter of blood.

If a driver has a BAC of 0.05 or lower, then it is presumed that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol intoxicants (this however does not mean the driver was not impaired by drugs). Section 18.2-269(A)(1).

If a driver has a BAC of 0.08 or higher, then it is presumed that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Section 18.2-269(A)(3).

If a driver has a BAC above 0.05 but below 0.08, then there is no presumption either way. Section 18.2-269(A)(2). Although there is no presumption as to whether the driver was or was not influenced by alcohol, the BAC of the driver may still be used in concert with other competent evidence to determine if the driver is guilty of driving under the influence. Section 18.2-269(A)(2).

Under Section 18.2-269(A)(4), it is presumed that the driver was under the influence of drugs to a degree that the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely was impaired when, per liter of blood, the driver has:

  • 0.02 milligrams or more of cocaine,
  • 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine or more,
  • 0.01 milligrams of PCP or more, or;
  • 0.1 milligrams of MDMA (or “ecstasy”).

Person 21 Driving after Illegally Consuming Alcohol (Section 18.2-266.1)

If any driver under 21 has a BAC of 0.02 or higher, then the driver is guilty of driving after illegally consuming alcohol. Section 18.2-266.1. The driver will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500. Sections 18.2-266.1; 18.2-11(a). Furthermore, the driver will have his or her driver’s license suspended for at least one year.

Lastly, the driver may be ordered to complete 50 hours of community service in lieu of the $500 mandatory minimum fine. Section 18.2-266.1.

DUI Penalties (Section 18.2-270)

The penalties for driving under the influence in the state of Virginia is determined by how many prior DUI convictions the individual has had within the past 10 years or five years, with additional enhanced penalties for extraordinarily high BAC levels and having a minor in the vehicle while driving under the influence.

If an individual is convicted of driving under the influence, then that individual faces up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500. Section 18.2-270(A).

If the person has a BAC of at least 0.15 but under 0.20, then the individual also has the enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum of five days in jail. Section 18.2-270(A)(i). If the individual has a BAC of 0.20 or higher, then the individual has an enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. Section 18.2-270(A)(ii).

Prior Convictions

If an individual is convicted twice for driving under the influence within five years, then the individual faces one month to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500, with an enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum 20 days in jail. Section 18.2-270(B)(1).

If an individual is convicted twice for driving under the influence within 10 years, then individual faces one month to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500, with an enhanced penalty of an additional mandatory minimum 10 days in jail. Section 18.2-270(B)(2).

If an individual convicted twice for driving under the influence within 10 years has a BAC of at least 0.15 but less than 0.20, then the individual faces the enhanced penalty of an additional 10 day mandatory minimum sentence. If the individual’s BAC was 0.20 or higher, then the individual faces the enhanced penalty of an additional 20 day mandatory minimum sentence. Section 18.2-270(B).

If an individual is convicted three times for driving under the influence within 10 years, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony with a 90-day mandatory minimum sentence. Section 18.2-270(C). Thus, the individual will face one to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine, OR, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500. Sections 18.2-270(C); 18.2-10(f).

If the individual has been convicted for driving under the influence three times within five years, then the enhanced penalty is instead a mandatory minimum of six months in jail. Section 18.2-270(C). Thus, the individual will face one to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, six months to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500. Sections 18.2-270(C); 18.2-10(f).

If an individual is guilty of driving under the influence and has three or more prior DUI convictions, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony with a one year mandatory minimum and $1,000 minimum fine. Section 18.2-270(C)(3). Thus, the individual will face one to five years in prison and a fine of $1,000. Section 18.2-10(f).

If an individual has a prior conviction of involuntary manslaughter or maiming as a result of driving under the influence, then every subsequent DUI is a Class 6 felony with a $1,000 minimum fine and a one-year mandatory minimum sentence. Thus, the individual will face one to five years in prison and a fine of at least $1,000. Sections 18.2-270(C)(2); 18.2-10(f).

Other Enhanced Penalties; Administrative Penalties

If an individual is convicted of a DUI and the individual has a minor in the vehicle during the offense, the individual faces an enhanced penalty of an additional five-day mandatory minimum sentence and a fine between $500 and $1,000. Section 18.2-270(D).

If an individual is guilty of a felony violation of driving under the influence, then the individual’s vehicle will be seized and forfeited. Section 18.2-270(C)(4).

In addition to the criminal penalties of driving under the influence, someone convicted of a DUI will receive these additional penalties:

  1. After first DUI conviction:
    1. 1-year license suspension,
    2. Completion of Alcohol Safety Action Program, and;
    3. Ignition Interlock Device Required (if BAC was above 0.15).
  2. After second DUI conviction:
    1. 3-year license suspension,
    2. Completion of Alcohol Safety Action Program, and;
    3. Ignition Interlock Device Required for Reinstatement of license.
  3. After third DUI Conviction:
    1. Indefinite license suspension (driver may petition court after 5 years),
    2. If license reinstated, Ignition Interlock Device Required.