Over 20,000 people were arrested for DUI in Virginia in 2018. In an effort to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence, Virginia has implemented strict laws. If you are facing a DUI charge, then it’s important to learn the applicable laws and how they can affect your driving privileges, finances, and criminal record.
These DUI fast facts can help you handle it better, and understand your rights and responsibilities when facing a DUI charge.
1. There Are Four Elements
The Virginia Commonwealth must prove four elements when charging someone with DUI. It is a bit more complex than simply getting caught driving while intoxicated.
- A motor vehicle
- Under the influence
- Of alcohol or drugs
Operation means that you are in physical control of a motor vehicle. This is addressed by either your admission of driving the vehicle or a witness stating they saw you driving. The arresting officer is typically the one to provide this testimony. A motor vehicle is anything that’s self-propelled or designed to be self-propelled.
To be under the influence, the accused must have consumed enough drugs or alcohol to observably affect his speech, manner, muscular movement, disposition, behavior, or general appearance. Specifically, it means having a BAC that is higher than .08. This is proved by chemical tests, admission, observation, and driving behavior.
Finally, blood tests and breathalyzer tests are used to prove that there is a presence of drugs or alcohol. When levels are high enough, their presence infers their influence at the time of the arrest.
2. Your Vehicle May Get Impounded
Once arrested for a DUI in Virginia, your vehicle may get impounded. Law enforcement isn’t required to impound the vehicle, but they might if they want to search the vehicle or you don’t have someone to retrieve it immediately. If this happens, you can either have someone retrieve the vehicle for you or retrieve it yourself when you are able.
If you already have a revoked or suspended license, the vehicle will get impounded when you get arrested for a DUI. In this situation, your vehicle may get impounded for 30 days. If the court finds that your suspended license was a result of refusing a DUI breath test, it can elect to hold your vehicle in impound for another 90 days.
To retrieve your vehicle from impound, you will need to provide proof of identity and pay for all reasonable costs. This includes towing costs to get your vehicle to the impound lot and storage fees. These expenses can become quite expensive.
3. Handling a DUI Is Expensive
Handling a DUI case is a huge expense that is easily avoided. In addition to the towing and impound fees, there are court fees, penalties, lawyer costs, and the cost of any courses required. The average DUI defense costs between $5,000 and $20,000. The cost of your DUI will vary based on several factors, including the charges faced, the attorney hired, the punishment imposed by the court, length of vehicle impoundment, and the number of previous DUI arrests.
4. Your License May Get Suspended
If your breath test result is over .08, or you are under 21 with a breath test over .02, or you unreasonably refuse the breath test, then your license will get administratively suspended. If it is your first DUI arrest, then it will be a seven-day suspension. A second DUI arrest within ten years results in a 60-day suspension. If it is your third UDI offense, then your license will get administratively suspended until the trial.
You Can Fight an Administrative Suspension
If you really need to drive during your suspension, you or your DUI attorney must petition the court to lift the suspension. This will only be done if you prove either of these arguments by a preponderance of the evidence.
- The arresting officer didn’t have probable cause for the arrest
- There was no probable cause for the issuance or the warrant.
If successful, you will either immediately get your driving privileges back, or the length of the suspension could be shortened. If you are unsuccessful, the suspension will remain in place.