Virginia Penalties for a First-Time DUI Conviction
Virginia police and prosecutors aggressively pursue drinking and driving offenses, so even a first-time DUI conviction could carry stiff fines and other penalties. The penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Virginia can vary based on several factors: Your age, your blood alcohol content (BAC), whether your actions hurt anyone else or caused any property damage, and others.
Your best option for minimizing DUI penalties and consequences is to seek help from an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Samantha Upton has handled thousands of traffic cases, giving her extensive experience as a Virginia DUI defense lawyer.
What Can You Expect If You’ve Been Charged with a DUI for the First Time?
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the potential penalties for a first-time DUI conviction could include:
- A mandatory minimum $250 fine
- Having your driver’s license revoked
- Having to enroll in an alcohol abuse treatment program
- Having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle
- Jail time, with the sentence length depending on other factors (age, BAC level at the time of arrest, if anyone else was in the car with you, etc.)
- Having a misdemeanor on your criminal record
Possible Jail Time After a First Offense DUI
A first-time DUI offense in Virginia does not necessarily mean that you’ll have to spend time in jail, as long as your actions injured no one.
- If you have a BAC level between 0.08 percent and 0.15 percent, there is no required jail time for a first-time DUI offense.
- If you have a BAC level between 0.15 percent and 0.20 percent, you will have to spend a minimum of five days in jail upon conviction.
- If your BAC level is above 0.20 percent, you’ll be required to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail if you are convicted.
License Suspension After Your First DUI Offense
A first-time DUI offense could result in your driver’s license being revoked for one year. Unlike a driver’s license suspension, which is temporary and automatically lifted after the suspension period ends, having your driver’s license revoked means you will have to reapply to reinstate your driving privileges. That means you’ll need to take all the applicable skills and knowledge tests that you would if you were applying for a license for the first time. You’ll also have to pay for a new driver’s license.
First-Offense DUI and Car Insurance Rates
A DUI conviction will usually have a significant impact on your car insurance premiums. Upon reinstatement of your driving privileges, the Commonwealth of Virginia will often require drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to purchase special insurance coverage known as an FR-44 Certification, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
This certification provides liability coverage in the amounts of:
- $50,000 for bodily injury/death of one person
- $100,000 for bodily injury/death of two or more persons $100,000
- $40,000 for property damage
These policies are often more expensive than a standard auto insurance policy for a driver with a clean record.
When you are no longer required to carry FR-44 coverage, most insurers will look at a driver’s record when determining premium amounts. A DUI conviction could still result in increased rates for standard coverage.
What Can Our DUI Lawyer Do for You?
Being arrested and charged with DUI does not necessarily mean you’ll have to go to trial or that you’ll be convicted. There are many ways that a Virginia DUI lawyer can help in these situations, such as:
- Examining the evidence against you to see if there are any holes in the prosecution’s narrative
- Suppressing evidence obtained unlawfully
- Negotiating for a plea agreement to a lesser charge
- Representing you in court proceedings