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Virginia DUI Courts

A case will go to trial in Virginia if the Commonwealth and the defendant are not able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement that results in a plea bargain.

In any case where the defense believes that it has a better chance to get a good result from the judge either in terms of dismissal or in some cases just in terms of lighter punishment then they may take the case to Virginia DUI Courts.

If someone is facing drunk driving charges, it is imperative that they speak with an experienced DUI attorney. There can be severe consequences if a person is convicted of driving under the influence.

Virginia General District Court

DUIs might be tried in different Virginia DUI courts, depending on the severity of their offense. Misdemeanor DUI trials are tried in General District Court. Felony cases are tried in the circuit courts although there is a preliminary hearing first held in the District Court even in a felony case. Judges take DUI cases seriously, they listen carefully to the evidence.

Judges are certainly in the right cases sympathetic to defense arguments and may dismiss the case. In other cases where facts are particularly egregious, the court may impose a harsh penalty if it finds the individual guilty.

Process of Appointing General District Court Judges

General District Court judges are actually appointed by the Virginia General Assembly. The process for choosing a judge typically involves a senator or a delegate from the district that is in need of a judge proposing a candidate with the advice and input of local bar associations and others. Then, that person is interviewed and presented to the judicial committee of the General Assembly to determine whether they are a fit. If the person is recommended by the committee then the full General Assembly votes on that judge and if the vote is successful, they are then appointed to the judge set for a particular term, in varying length depending on what judge it is.

How DUI Cases Are Treated in Circuit Court

Circuit court judges treat driving under the influence charges seriously. Particularly, the kinds of cases that come to circuit court are felonies, which means that it is at least the third time a person has been charged with the DUI.

These are the kinds of cases where a person has the most at stake and where the potential penalties are harsh. Judges take that quite seriously both in terms of listening to the evidence against the accused as well as listening to the evidence or argument of the defense as to why the person may not be guilty or why there may be reasonable doubt in the case.

Who Gets to Be a Circuit Court Judge?

Circuit court judges can come out of a variety of different types of practices. Certainly, it is true that a judge’s reputation in their practice area, whether it is criminal in the sense that they are a former prosecutor or defense attorney or in a large variety of types of civil practices, their reputation, and their ability is all part of that.

In many cases, it is also a function of their standing in the community and their political connections. When they come to the Virginia DUI courts they are called upon to deal with not just the criminal side of the law but also a variety of things on the civil side.


The process of choosing judges in Virginia DUI courts is quite straightforward. Circuit court judges are chosen by the Virginia General Assembly. Normally, they are first nominated by a delegate or a senator who represents the district where there is an open judgeship. The person then goes through a committee and is ultimately put to a vote of the full Virginia General Assembly, if that vote is successful then the judge appointed for a term of years which can vary depending on the judge that it is.

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