Virginia takes charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol quite seriously, and has a strict penalty structure that applies based on whether a driver has prior DUI convictions, whether any minors were involved, and how high the driver’s blood alcohol or drug test results registered.
However, it is not uncommon for drivers to be wrongfully charged with DUI. If you or your loved one or child are facing an unfair DUI charge, our Springfield DUI lawyers can help. Call and schedule a consultation today to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer in Springfield.
Under Virginia Code 18.2-266, a driver may be charged with a DUI offense with a blood alcohol content level of as low as 0.5 percent, though typically the threshold for an automatic DUI charge is 0.8 percent. Additionally, minors may be charged with DUI with a BAC as low as 0.02 percent. If a BAC is between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, there is no presumption either way. Instead, the arresting officer relies on his or her discretion to determine impairment.
In court, the prosecution will need to make their case by establishing that a driver displayed evidence of impairment or intoxication, such as slurring words, failing a field sobriety test, driving erratically or attempting to avoid a road block stop. This is one reason why it is so important for drivers with BACs in this so-called “grey area” to have an experienced Springfield VA DUI lawyer as their advocate in court. Your Springfield DUI attorney can examine the evidence against you and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, pointing out for the court mistakes or subjective judgments the officer could have made.
The law also sets strict standards for the amount of drugs that can legally be in a driver’s system, including cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP, and MDMA, or Ecstasy. Drivers can also be charged with drug DUIs while under the influence or impaired by legal or prescription medications. Again, much depends on the subjective discretion of the arresting officer. If facing criminal charges as well, a Springfield criminal defense attorney can provide legal counsel.
Penalties in Virginia for DUI charges become increasingly severe with each subsequent offense, especially if multiple offenses were committed within five or ten years of each other. A first-time offense carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and $2500 in fines. A subsequent offense within five years carries an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum twenty days in jail, while a second offense within a 10-year period in punishable by a mandatory minimum jail sentence of ten days.
Three DUI convictions within ten years becomes a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a $1000 fine, plus a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, and three such convictions within a five-year period results in a mandatory minimum of six months in jail.
Heightened penalties also occur when a driver’s BAC level is very elevated. If a driver’s BAC is higher than 0.15 percent, an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of five days in jail attaches. Drivers with BAC levels of above .20 percent face a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.
DUI offenses also carry administrative penalties, including driver’s license suspension ranging between one year suspension to indefinite suspension or revocation, possible vehicle forfeiture, interlock ignition device requirements, and mandatory alcohol safety program attendance.
No matter the severity of the charges you are facing, your Springfield VA DUI lawyer can fight to have the penalties reduced or the charges dismissed.
Regardless of whether you are facing a first-time DUI offense or you have a prior DUI conviction, one of our Springfield VA DUI lawyers can help. Your Springfield VA DUI attorney will be able to determine whether you were properly stopped and arrested, whether the breathalyzer machine equipment functioned properly, if any blood samples or evidence were collected and handled appropriately, and whether your rights were respected during your arrest.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.