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. 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 be mandatory after a first conviction.

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 will result in the mandatory driver's license revocation for 12 months and fines starting at $250.

• A second conviction, in less than five years from a first conviction, results in a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a jail sentence of at least one month, 20 days of which are considered mandatory confinement.

• 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. For example, a first-time conviction for a person with a BAC of .15 or greater includes 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.

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.