How tough are Virginia’s DUI penalties?

Virginia’s drunk driving penalties can be severe and even include the required use of an ignition interlock device after a first conviction.

Drunk driving is something that Virginia legislators and law enforcement officials are tough on. The Washington Post notes that even someone convicted of a first-time offense can be required to install and use an ignition interlock device. Depending upon the level of alcohol in a person's blood, jail time can also result after a first conviction, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Understanding just what penalties can be faced for different charges is important for anyone who has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

Penalties for first and subsequent DUI convictions

The DMV outlines a graduated approach to consequences for people convicted of drunk driving offense. Details include the following:

• A first conviction can result in the revocation of a license for 12 months and fines starting at $250.

• A second conviction can result in the revocation of a license for 36 months and fines starting at $500. Jail time can be ordered to last as long as 12 months with mandatory sentences if the conviction happens within 10 years of a first offense.

• A third conviction can result in the revocation of a license indefinitely and fines starting at $1,000. This offense is also a Class 6 felony. Jail time starts at 90 days for any offense within 10 years of a prior conviction.

• A fourth conviction can send a defendant to jail for at least 12 months.

A person's blood alcohol content level can also impact a potential sentence. A first-time conviction for a person with a BAC over .14 percent has minimum mandatory jail time.

What about IIDs?

A new law signed into effect a few years ago opened the door to the required use of ignition interlock devices even after a first offense. These devices are installed into a vehicle and control the ignition based upon the results of a breath test. Drivers must pass tests every single time they wish to drive. Additional tests can also be ordered once a person begins a journey.

Are convictions always guaranteed?

Not everyone who is arrested on drunk driving charges is convicted. HamptonRoads.com gave information about how a state official was acquitted after a September 2014 DUI arrest. He was, initially, found guilty of refusing breath tests. However, after his appeal, a jury declared him innocent of that charge as well.

The right legal help matters

Because of the severity of penalties that Virginia residents can be subject to after a DUI conviction, getting the right legal help from the beginning is critical. After an arrest, a phone call to an attorney should be made.