You were arrested on drunk driving charges once before, but you were given probation and the charges were eventually dropped. Now you are facing a second DUI conviction, and you’re not sure what to expect. Could you end up going to jail or losing your license even if your first offense happened several years ago?
Understanding the Penalties for DUI in Virginia
In the state of Virginia, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle, train, motorcycle, or even a moped while under the intoxicating effects of drugs or alcohol. In cases of drunk driving, this generally means a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, while any amount of drugs that impairs the ability to drive a vehicle safely is prohibited.
The penalties for breaking the law get more and more severe with each subsequent offense. As a result, offenders can face a number of harsh punishments for DUI in Virginia depending on whether they have been arrested for:
- First offense. Penalties for a first-time DUI depend on the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of arrest. If you have never been charged with drunk driving and your BAC was less than .15, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying penalties up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and a loss of your driver's license for up to one year. If your BAC was between .15 and .20, you must serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days; if your BAC is .20 or higher, then you must serve a mandatory jail sentence of at least 10 days. Finally, if your BAC was .15 or more, you will be required to attend and complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and install an ignition interlock device on your registered vehicles for a minimum of six months.
- Second offense. If you are convicted of a DUI within five years of your first offense, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory jail sentence of at least one month. For a BAC between .15 and .20, an additional 10 days will be added to the mandatory jail sentence; if the BAC is .20 or greater, 20 days will be added to the minimum jail sentence. Any BAC over .15 will increase the fine to a minimum of $1,000. Your driver’s license will be suspended for three years, with an option to renew a restricted license anywhere from four months to a year after conviction. If a restricted license is granted, the driver is required to install an ignition interlock in his or her vehicle until license suspension is ended and until six months have passed.
- Third offense. If you are arrested for a third Virginia DUI within 10 years of the first offense, you may be charged with a Class Six felony, face up to five years’ imprisonment in a penitentiary, and pay up to $2,500 in fines. If your third offense falls within five years of your previous offenses, you will pay a minimum $1,000 fine and spend a minimum of six months in jail, and your license can be suspended indefinitely.
Should I Just Plead Guilty in a DUI Case?
If you are planning on pleading guilty to a DUI, you should know that there is no guarantee that the charges against you will be reduced if you do so. You will need to negotiate a plea bargain to lessen the charges, something very few defendants are able to do without a lawyer. Call the trial law team at The Daniel Law Firm, P.C. today to have us examine the facts of your case and advise you on your best strategy in court.
There are many different types of charges for inflicting physical harm on a person under Virginia laws. The most common laws refer to physical injury as crimes of assault or battery. Assault generally refers to an intention to cause physical harm (including threatening harm or placing the victim in reasonable fear of harm), while battery occurs when a person inflicts harm (such as breaking someone’s arm).
The punishments for assault or battery will depend on the facts of your case. However, there are some circumstances that will upgrade your charges to a felony offense, automatically granting you a higher sentence. For example, the following offenses may all be charged as felony assaults in Virginia:
- Attacks on protected employees. Attacks on protected employees, such as law enforcement officers, correctional employees, judges, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel can all be charged as Class 6 felonies, carrying a minimum jail sentence of six months.
- Prisoner offenses. Prisoners who have been confined to a correctional or juvenile facility or are on parole or probation can be charged with a Class 5 felony for assault on a correctional officer, an employee supervising or working with prisoners, a visitor to a correctional facility, or a probation or parole officer. If the attacker knew that the victim was performing official and protected duties at the time of the attack, he or she can be sentenced to one to ten years in prison and face a fine of up to $2,500.
- Domestic violence. A physical attack on a family or household member (including a spouse or ex-spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, in-laws, and other residents who cohabit the same house as the attacker) can be charged as a Class 6 felony if the defendant has previously been convicted of assault, battery, or malicious wounding against a family member.
- Hate crimes. An attacker can be charged with a hate crime (a Class 6 felony with a minimum sentence of at least six months with a mandatory 30 days in jail) if he or she inflicted bodily harm on a victim based on the victim’s religion, color, race, or national origin.
Will I Automatically Go to Prison on a Felony Assault Charge?
While some charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, a good criminal defense attorney should be able to closely examine the facts of your case to determine if there is a way you could qualify for a lesser penalty. The Daniel Law Firm, P.C. always prepares criminal cases for trial, ensuring that you spend a minimum of time in jail.
We offer Free and Private Consultations. Call us toll free at 540-204-4316 to set up an appointment or have us explain what you can expect in your case.