Each year, there are about 240 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Virginia. Of these intoxicated drivers, 76.9 percent had a blood-alcohol level of over .15, which is high enough to qualify for Virginia’s DUI laws of enhanced penalties for a high BAC. To reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents in Richmond, Virginia, and other cities throughout the state, Virginia has stricter laws and harsher punishments.
These laws do not just affect those with Virginia state licenses. Find out how Virginia’s DUI laws can impact you.
You Give “Implied Consent” to a BAC Test When Driving on Virginia Highways
If you decide to operate a vehicle on Virginia highways, you give implied consent to participate in a BAC test. This means that any driver operating a vehicle on a Virginia highway could be required to take a breath or blood alcohol test upon getting arrested for DUI. For implied consent to take effect, the offense must take place on public, not private, road, and the test must be administered within three hours of the offense.
If you choose to refuse the BAC test unreasonably, Virginia law requires your license to be suspended for a year. Choose to refuse a second time, and you face a three-year license suspension and Class 1 misdemeanor.
An Out of State DUI Conviction Can Impact Your Virginia License
If you have a Virginia license and get convicted of a DUI in another state, your Virginia license can get affected. The convicting state will report the DUI to the state of Virginia. Your license will then get suspended. You may be able to petition for a restricted license, but you will need to prove certain elements for the court to approve this limited license.
You may want to consider speaking to an attorney. They can explain the restricted license petition process. They can also explain the differences between the out-of-state DUI laws and Virginia’s. In some cases, a lawyer could argue that the out-of-state laws are so different from Virginia’s that the license suspense should be reversed completely.
Should your license remain suspended, you will need to take several actions to get your license reinstated at the end of the suspension. Complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), provide proof of financial responsibility, and pay the reinstatement fee.
Virginia Police Can’t Take An Out of State License
If you hold a driver’s license from a state other than Virginia and get arrested for DUI in Virginia, the police cannot take your license like they would with someone who has a Virginia driver’s license. They can only tell them that they can no longer legally drive in the state of Virginia. However, there is a National Driver Registry that is a part of the Driver License Compact (CDC), where states report driving infractions and events. Once Virginia reports the DUI to the national database, the driver’s home state can pick up on the report and include it in their official driving record for the state. The driver’s home state may also take action, such as restriction or suspension.
Out of State Drivers Get Tried in Virginia
Virginia law includes both administrative and criminal punishments for a DUI offense. Drivers that are from out of state will face these punishments in the state of Virginia. The administrative portion we cover in the previous section with the driver’s right to operate a vehicle in Virginia being taken away. However, the criminal portion is a bit more complicated. Drivers face criminal prosecution, including an arrest, arraignment, filing of criminal charges, plea bargain or court trial, innocent or guilty ruling, and possible sentencing. You will be held to the Virginia law and not the laws of your home state.
If you find yourself facing a DUI in Virginia and you are from out of state, consider speaking with a Virginia DUI attorney. They can explain the process and the applicable laws. They know the court system and process so that you can have an effective defense. In some cases, your attorney can appear on your behalf, reducing your need to travel back to the state for every hearing