Driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal act in Virginia. A DUI charge refers to operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.8% or more. The drunk driving laws in Virginia are very strict. A prosecution for drunk driving can be administered even without a test. Individuals under the age of 21 stand to face DUI charges if their BAC is above 0.2%.
Other alcohol and drug related crimes in Virginia include:
• Buying alcohol while underage
• Misrepresenting or falsifying your age to obtain alcohol
• Having alcohol on school property
A law enforcement officer can pull you aside if they observe that you are driving in a reckless manner. There are several tests that can be administered to determine whether you are intoxicated. The standardized tests have the approval of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests may include certain precise instructions such as standing on one leg. These tests are carried out to check for signs of impairment.
Sobriety tests can be affected by many other factors including use of certain medication, weather conditions, pre-existing medical conditions, and the terrain where the test is being carried out. It is often very hard for drivers to pass all these tests.
DUI penalties in Virginia
Under Section 18.2-270 of the Code, DUI is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. For a first time offense, the maximum punishment is one year jail time, a fine of $2,500, or loss of driving privileges for a maximum period of one year. In addition to this, convicted persons are expected to enroll in an alcohol safety program. This program has costs implications.
Drivers also stand to face increased insurance rates. Commercial drivers may also lose their jobs and any hope of future employment. A second offense may attract a license suspension of about three years. For third offenses, your driving license may be suspended indefinitely.
As evidenced, DUI penalties are harsh in Virginia. If you have been charged with DUI, you need to seek legal assistance immediately. Remember there is so much at stake, and you stand to face jail time. An experienced lawyer will review your case and investigate further. Most lawyers do not charge for a case evaluation. In his defense, the lawyer may argue based on the way the sobriety test was conducted. Certain technical issues arise from the use of Breathalyzer. A good lawyer can argue this out in your favor. DUI lawyers employ various tactics to ensure that you do not get a harsh penalty.
It is possible to have your charges dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict. Based on the gravity of the DUI charge and the evidence provided, the lawyer will advise you accordingly. In some cases, it is best to plead guilty and get a lesser charge.
The case evaluation made by the lawyer will give him insight on how you should plead. It is, therefore, ill advised not to take advantage of the services of DUI defense lawyers.