In 2019, 18,648 people were convicted of DUI in Virginia. Most drivers know the basics of DUI law. If you drive while intoxicated, you can get a DUI. However, there is a lot more to Virginia DUIs than this. You probably don’t know these seven things about Virginia DUI law.
1. You Don’t Have to Be Above the Legal Limit
There is a common misconception that you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 to get charged with a DUI. However, this is not the case. You can be below the legal limit and still get charged with a DUI. This is because the law considers someone to be driving under the influence when their alcohol consumption impairs their ability to operate a vehicle safely. For some people, this can happen when their BAC is below the legal limit.
2. There Is a Presumption of Sobriety
If your BAC is below .05, there is a presumption that you are sober. The grey area of the law is when you have a BAC of .06 or .07. You are not presumed sober or intoxicated in this range. When you test within this range, the Commonwealth can present additional evidence to show that your BAC level contributed to your unsafe operation of a vehicle. This additional evidence helps to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated.
3. You Don’t Have to Drink a Lot
It does not take much to get to a BAC of .08. For most people, just 2-4 drinks within a one-hour time period can be enough to get over the limit. The exact number changes because four factors contribute to your BAC. Your gender, weight, time period, and drink strength all contribute. There is no magic trick that can “sober you up” fast. The only way you can lower your BAC is with time. Your body needs to metabolize the alcohol and process it out of your system.
4. You Have Already Agreed to Testing
By operating a vehicle on Virginia roads, you have already given implied consent to blood, breath, or both tests to determine alcohol or drug content in your system. The tests happen after your arrest and must take place within three hours of the arrest. It does not matter if you have a valid driver’s license. Even those without a license are assumed to have given this implied consent.
5. You Could Get a Wet Reckless Charge
This unique term refers to those with a BAC close to the legal limit, and it is their first offense. A wet reckless charge isn’t statutorily defined. However, it is understood to be a reckless driving charge with the influence of alcohol. Typically, first-time offenders and those with a BAC under the legal limit can agree to a plea deal for this lesser charge. This can reduce the impact on the individual and lessen the consequences of Virginia DUIs.
Typically, a wet reckless charge has a shorter jail sentence, reduced penalties, and no ignition interlock device requirement. You may also avoid a suspended driver’s license and be required to attend fewer Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) hours.
6. You Need Special Insurance
After a DUI arrest and conviction, you will eventually start driving again. When this happens, you will have to buy car insurance. However, you are now considered a “high-risk driver” that must purchase FR 44 insurance. This insurance meets the state requirement of being insured for twice the minimum limits required in Virginia.
- Bodily injury/death of one person $50,000
- Bodily injury/death of two or more persons $100,000
- Property damage $40,000
7. You Can Ask for Weekends
Getting sentenced to a jail term can derail your life. If you have work or family responsibilities, you can have your DUI attorney ask for you to serve your jail time on the weekends. Several factors get considered to determine if this is appropriate. First, the charge needs to be a misdemeanor.
There needs to be space available in the weekend program for you to join. The judge beads to be willing to allow weekend time served. The defendant’s job needs to be affected by weekday jail time service. Finally, whether or not the prosecutor objects to weekend service is considered.