Facing a DUI charge in Virginia can be daunting, especially if this is your first time facing a criminal charge. In Virginia, law enforcement officers and prosecutors are committed to rigorously prosecuting and enforcing DUI regulations. Understanding the DUI process and legal options available to you will help you make the most informed decision about how to proceed with your legal defense.
Discuss Your DUI Case With a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’re convicted of a DUI, you face serious penalties, including jail time, fines, a criminal record, and the loss of your driver’s license. A DUI conviction threatens your liberty, mobility, insurance rates, finances, and reputation. The sooner you speak to a skilled DUI defense lawyer, the better. We recommend contacting Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC as soon as possible following your DUI arrest.
Virginia’s DUI Laws
According to Virginia law, operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) equal to or greater than .08 percent is a crime. For drivers under 21, the blood alcohol limit is .02 percent. Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, and Virginia prosecutors take DUI charges seriously. It’s also illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, irrespective of the quantity of alcohol consumed. It is also illegal to drive while under the influence of a narcotic drug or a combination of drugs likely to produce similar results.
Conviction of a first-time DUI is a criminal offense. A first and second offense within 10 years is a misdemeanor with a penalty of under a year of jail time. First-time offenders face potential jail time, fines, and probation. A second DUI in 10 years comes with a mandatory minimum jail sentence. Finally, third and subsequent DUI convictions within 10 years are considered felonies with more severe mandatory jail sentences and fines.
Consent to Breathalyzer Tests in Virginia
Any driver operating a motor vehicle on Virginia roads gives implied consent to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test. In other words, if you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, and you refuse to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test, your driver’s license will be suspended. Subsequent blood and breathalyzer refusals within a 10-year timeframe are considered criminal offenses and can result in fines, imprisonment, and license suspension.
Penalties in Virginia
Many Virginia residents aren’t aware that even a first-time DUI conviction is a criminal offense. A first-time DUI conviction can seriously impair your career possibilities, ability to drive, and overall status in your community. You will serve mandatory jail time if you are convicted of a subsequent DUI within 10 years of your first DUI conviction. A third DUI conviction within 10 years is considered a felony in Virginia.
Regardless of whether this is your first, second, or third DUI conviction, being convicted will cost you. In addition to potential jail time, DUI convictions can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which you will pay over the years to come. You’ll need to pay fines, bail, legal fees, car insurance premium increases, and court-ordered education programs, in addition to possibly lost income.
The penalties for DUI increase as the amount of alcohol in your system increases and with the number of prior convictions. When another person becomes injured or dies due to the DUI, you will face even harsher penalties. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced DUI lawyer immediately to try to begin developing a legal strategy.
Factors of a DUI Defense
One of the experienced Virginia DUI lawyers at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC will investigate your case and develop an effective defense strategy. Every DUI case is unique and needs a unique strategy. In some cases, the police did not have the necessary probable cause, or reason, to stop you in the first place. For example, if there was no evidence of erratic driving, no blood alcohol test was administered, or your blood alcohol concentration was within the legal limit, your attorney can challenge the police officer’s decision to pull you over.
In other cases, the police officer in charge of administering the field sobriety tests may not have administered them properly. The officer must be trained and follow multiple procedural steps to properly administer the breathalyzer and blood alcohol tests. When they fail to follow the steps correctly, or the machine hasn’t been well maintained or used correctly, your lawyer can petition the court to dismiss the charges against you.
Finally, there is always the possibility that the police officer who arrested you violated your constitutional rights. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our Virginia DUI lawyers will use the full range of trial tactics at our disposal to challenge your drunk driving charge.
The Ignition Interlock Device
After a second DUI conviction, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device. It is possible that if you agree to install an ignition interlock device, you can obtain a restricted driver’s license after a first-time DUI conviction. This device is similar to a breathalyzer and is connected to your vehicle’s dashboard. You will need to blow into the device, and your vehicle will not start unless your blood alcohol concentration is within the legal limit.
Talk to a Skilled Virginia DUI Attorney
Driving while under the Influence is a serious criminal charge in Virginia. The ramifications of a DUI conviction are much more serious than a simple traffic ticket and can impact you negatively for the rest of your life. You owe it to yourself to make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, one of our skilled DUI lawyers will investigate your case and develop an effective legal strategy for the best outcome possible. Contact us today to discuss your DUI case with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers.