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What a DUI Means for You in Richmond, Virginia


A total of 20,885 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2018 in Virginia. If you become one of these people, it can be scary not knowing what’s ahead of you. Speaking with a DUI attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and how you can fight them. 

Get a basic understanding of DUI charges in Virginia with this guide.  

What Is a DUI in Virginia? 

According to Virginia Code § 18.2-266, drivers are under the influence when their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more. It also applies to drivers under the influence of any narcotic drug or intoxicant that impairs their ability to operate a motor vehicle. The law outlines minimums for specific substances, but your ability to operate your motor vehicle could be impaired at lower levels. 

  • 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood
  • 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood
  • 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood
  • 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood

You may see the acronym DUI or DWI. In the state of Virginia, these are interchangeable terms that refer to the same set of offenses. A driver is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of something. This can vary from other states where these terms can refer to separate and different offenses. 

What Are the Penalties for a DUI?

The penalties for your DUI arrest will depend on how many DUI offenses you have in your criminal history and what your blood alcohol level is. 

First and Second DUI Offenses

A first or second DUI offense is a misdemeanor with a jail time of up to 12 months in jail. A first-time offender could potentially avoid jail time completely while a second-time offender faces a minimum of ten days in jail. The minimum number of days in jail for first and second-time offenders increases as the proven blood alcohol level increases. First-time offenders lose their license for 12 months, and second-time offenders lose theirs for 36 months. It should also be noted that the punishments for a second-time offender increase when the second offense is within five years from the first offense. 

Third and Fourth Offenses 

The punishments noticeably increase for third and fourth-time offenders, and the offense increases from a misdemeanor to a felony. The maximum jail time you are facing is five years. The minimum jail time you’re facing is 90 days for a third offense in ten years, 180 days for a third offense in five years, and one year for the fourth offense in ten years. For each of these offenses, you also face losing your license indefinitely. 

What If I Refuse a Breath Test? 

By operating a motor vehicle on Virginia roads you have already consented to take a breath test upon request when there is a suspicion of DUI. If you unreasonably refuse, you face losing your license for a year. This is a separate punishment from your DUI offense punishment should you be found guilty of a DUI. 

What If I Need to Drive to Work?

The court understands that you still have responsibilities, and there is a workaround for having a suspended license. You can request a restricted driver’s license that allows you to drive to work, school, child care, or church. The court will require you to have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle. There is also the option of being allowed to drive to unlimited places during the year with the ignition interlock on your vehicle for the entire year.  This can all be a bit confusing, especially for first-time offenders, and it is helpful to hire a lawyer to represent you during this process. Look for an attorney who has experience in the jurisdiction where you are fracking your DUI.

What Does a Wet Reckless Mean? 

This is a slang term that gets thrown around but isn’t a specific legal term. It refers to getting a DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge and then adding the punishments of a license suspension and VASAP. This may not be possible and can be hard to achieve. An experienced DUI attorney can explain your options and negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf. Many prosecutors aren’t willing to reduce DUI charges if they think they can secure the conviction. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case, look for flaws in the prosecutors case and use these to negotiate for a successful outcome. 

Speak With a DUI Attorney About Your Case 

If you find yourself facing DUI charges, speaking with an experienced DUI attorney can provide valuable insight. In addition, having a lawyer represent you means you have someone advocating on your behalf. 

Schedule a consultation today and speak with one of our skilled lawyers about your DUI charges.