First-Time DUI Penalties

People charged with a DUI in Virginia for the first time often have many questions and find the process overwhelming. Oftentimes, these are people with no criminal history who have no experience with the criminal justice system. These are people who may have made a mistake and want to get this incident behind them as quickly as possible. They need an attorney who will do the following

  • Explain the process
  • Keep them informed as to what is going on
  • Make themselves readily available for questions

The DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Patrick N. Anderson and Associates will provide this communication to their clients and make sure that this goes as smoothly as possible.

Virginia has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, so it is important to contact an experienced attorney right away if you face this serious charge. Because any subsequent DUI charges carry even more stringent penalties, you want an attorney who will work to clear your record of this first DUI charge. This will ensure you can get to work or school, ensure that your record remains clean of any infractions, and allow you to get your life back to normal.

The first question many clients have is, what type of penalties will I face if convicted?  For many first-time offenders, they are able to get more lenient sentences as long as their blood-alcohol levels are below .15 and they did not cause an accident. In these cases, the judge will usually suspend all of the jail time ordered, impose a fine (typically between $250-$600), suspend the driver’s license for one year, and place the person on active probation through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). VASAP is required for a first or second offense, but not for a third. This is because it is much more difficult to get your license reinstated after a third offense and requires a petition to the circuit court and a complete evaluation from VASAP.

Usually, in this type of case, a restricted operator’s license can be authorized by the court to allow the person to drive to and from work, school, child care responsibilities and health care appointments.  You may be denied a restricted license however, if your driving history contains excessive points (generally 8 or more) or a previous conviction of reckless driving.

There are also additional penalties if your blood-alcohol level exceeds .15. If this happens, there is a mandatory five days in jail and if it exceeds .20, there is a mandatory 10 days in jail. If you face charges of DUI and your BAC is above .15, it is vital to contact a DUI attorney right away to help prevent these mandatory jail times.

Virginia also recently required DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock system on their car to prevent future drunk driving incidents. An ignition interlock system is mandatory for any individual convicted of DWI after July 1, 2012, regardless of the offender’s BAC. The device must be installed for a minimum of six months or as long as the court ordered suspension, depending on what the judge requires.  An ignition interlock system is a safety device installed on the offenders’ vehicle, at the offender’s expense, that will prevent a vehicle from starting until after an offender blows into the device and confirms the driver is not under the influence of alcohol. Because these devices carry operational costs and because they make driving onerous, a skilled DUI attorney who is able to get the charges dismissed will prevent you from having to install one of these devices in your vehicle.

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