Like the rest of Virginia, Richmond takes DUI charges very seriously. Local law enforcement officials and prosecutors view DUIs very unfavorably, particularly if someone continuously and repeatedly commits these offenses. As an area that is continually growing and changing, DUIs are treated as an endangerment to public safety. Speak with a Richmond DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss how you should proceed if you have been charged with a first-offense DUI.
First-time DUI charges are heard in the John Marshall Courts building in the City of Richmond. First-offense DUI charges in Richmond are typically handled very strictly by the prosecutors and judges alike. Prosecutors will typically seek to impose penalties, including an active jail sentence, even on a first offense. By imposing strict penalties, the City is seeking to use this reputation to serve as a deterrent to the many students, young adults, and professionals in the City.
Penalties on a first-time offense are up to 12 months in jail and loss of license for 12 months. It includes up to a $2500 fine and the requirement to complete the VASAP course. You can obtain a restricted operator’s license. However, state law requires installation of an Ignition Interlock for a minimum of six months. If the blood alcohol content on the first offense is 0.15 to 0.20 then there is a minimum mandatory of five days in jail. If it is above a 0.20 then it is a minimum mandatory ten days in jail.
With first offenses, even if it is a standard first offense with a low blood alcohol content, the judges in Richmond will consider imposing up to a day in jail. These strict penalties are what makes Richmond a lot different than other jurisdictions.
In the City of Richmond, prosecutors do not offer diversion programs and there is no kind of first-offender program when it comes to a DUI offense. Judges are very tough, even on first-offense DUI charges with a low blood alcohol level. The courts would typically require you to serve an afternoon in jail.
In addition, if the blood alcohol level is high the judges will routinely go above the minimum-mandatory jail sentence. The judges are looking to let this serve as a deterrent. However, if it is a case with non-aggravating circumstances and the blood alcohol level is low, the courts will also consider some leniency in sentencing, especially if the individual has enrolled in counseling.
Typically what the officers and prosecutors are going to look for is the blood alcohol level. They are also going to look at how the person was driving. Was the individual driving recklessly or in such a manner where they were clearly impaired? Then they will look at the test itself. How did the individual perform on the test?
With a DUI case you need an experienced attorney who knows how to handle these cases and has handled them in the past. The best way to build up a defense to a DUI case is to analyze the stop and determine what probable cause the officer may have had for the stop and the subsequent investigation.
Basically, a Richmond DUI lawyer is looking for any Constitutional issues or violations that may have occurred. In addition, whether or not the defendant was advised of their implied consent rights is an important issue.
Richmond DUI lawyers also look at the test itself. Was the blood alcohol machine operating correctly and did the officer who conducted the test know how to operate it correctly?
The biggest mistake to avoid on a DUI offense is to try to handle the matter on your own or walk in and plead guilty. A lot of individuals do not realize the penalties involved in a DUI case. Routinely people will just walk into court and think that just because it is a first offense, they won’t be facing serious repercussions. Unfortunately, penalties on a DUI can be long lasting and can result in an active jail sentence as well as a loss of license for 12 months.
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