Concern over accidents caused by drunk drivers has prompted Virginia officials to get increasingly strict when it comes to consumption of alcohol and driving. It doesn’t take much to run afoul of the laws, and penalties are severe.
In fact, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has even issued a pamphlet proclaiming this stance with the title “Virginia is Tough on Drunk and Drugged Drivers.”
So, if you have been charged with an offense involving impaired driving, it is essential to meet with a Fairfax DUI lawyer as soon as possible to work to preserve your rights. Contact a qualified criminal lawyer and start building your defense.
While some states, including neighboring Maryland, have established separate offenses referred to as DUI – driving under the influence and DWI – driving while impaired, the Virginia statute uses a different DWI term driving while intoxicated, to mean essentially the same thing as driving under the influence.
Thus, while a DWI is a less serious offense than DUI in jurisdictions like Maryland, the terms are equally serious in Virginia. The title of the relevant statute, Section 18.2-266 of the Virginia Code, refers to driving a motor vehicle or engine, etc. while intoxicated.
The text of the statute itself prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination thereof. So, the law uses both terms interchangeably. A knowledgeable Fairfax DUI Lawyer can further explain the differences between the two.
A driver can be convicted of driving under the influence if one of two factors is present:
Any driver operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or greater than .08 percent (.08 grams per 210 liters of breath) is in violation of the law. However, certain categories of drivers will be found in violation at ever lower BAC levels.
Drivers of commercial vehicles violate the law if they have a BAC level of .04 percent or higher, and drivers under the age of 21 are in violation with a BAC of just .02 percent.
The penalties involved will largely depend on whether the driver has any prior convictions for similar offenses. A first offense is generally treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of $250 and a one-year license revocation.
The fines increase for second and subsequent violations and jail time may be imposed as well. Other circumstances such as a BAC of .15 percent or higher will also increase the penalties.
In addition, the court may require convicted drivers to take special classes or install ignition interlock devices. Moreover, refusing to take a breath test carries separate penalties including license revocation.
A Fairfax DUI lawyer can help individuals who have had their licensed revoked challenge the revocation, and can also attempt to mitigate the penalties.
While the basic statute prohibiting impaired driving seems straightforward, there are multiple complex laws governing the testing process. Moreover, the exact definition of what it means to operate a vehicle can come into play and the issue of impairment may be open to interpretation.
In other words, how your situation is presented to the court and the arguments raised in your defense will make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Quality legal representation can make all the difference. When you contact an experienced Fairfax DUI lawyer, you can have faith that your attorney will start working right away to try and bring about the best possible outcome.
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