As attorneys who talk to lots of people who’ve been arrested on DUI charges in Virginia, we know the most common questions people ask. Here are some of those answers.
If you’ve got a specific question, and can’t find the answer on the site, give us a call to talk to you about your case and get some answers to all your questions.
The Most Common Virginia DUI Questions
- How much will it cost to hire an attorney for a DUI case?
- What penalties am I facing if I’m convicted for DUI?
- What is the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?
- What are the Laws for a DUI if you are under 21?
DUI Stop Questions
For most people reading this, you’ve already been arrested, so it’s “water under the bridge”, and we’ll deal with whatever the facts are, but for general information:
- If I’m pulled over and asked if I’d be drinking, what should I say?
- Do I have a right to speak with an attorney before performing any tests?
- Should I agree to perform field sobriety test?
- Should I agree to the breathalyzer or chemical blood tests?
DUI Penalty Questions
- Will I be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in my car if I am found guilty of a DUI?
- How soon will I be able to drive again if I am convicted?
- What Circumstances can enhance (worsen) a drunk driving penalty?
VA DUI FAQs – Answers
There isn’t one simple answer, since it depends on the complexity and seriousness of the case. We’ll need to speak with you and ask you a few questions before it can be determined what the legal needs of the case will be.
For more on how we determine fees, see my lawyer fees page.
Virginia DUI penalties vary depending on the offense, your BAC result, and other circumstances. See my DUI laws & penalties page. Sorry, there is no simple one size fits all answer.
Under Virginia, law there is no difference. In common usage, they are used interchangeably to mean Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Intoxicated, or “drunk driving”.
However, if you were arrested on Federal property, and are charged in Federal Court (the US District Court in Alexandria, for example), then there is a legal distinction.
Under Federal law, a DWI is charged for a BAC result of .08% or higher. A DUIcharge is for a BAC between .02 and .08% BAC. It is even possible to be charged with both, simultaneously, under federal drunk driving laws.
The DUI laws in Virginia for those under 21 has gotten tougher. The penalty for an underage DUI with a BAC of over .02% (zero tolerance) became significantly tougher in 2008.
The penalty is a 1 year license suspension, and a minimum of a $500 fine or 50 hours of community service.
The penalty is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, the same as a regular first offense over 21 (.08 BAC or higher) charge.
If you are under 21, and blow a .08 or higher, you are subject to the same DUI laws and penalties as those of legal drinking age.
You don’t have to answer the question, on the advice of your attorney. If you do answer that you drank one or two beers, that isn’t necessarily a problem, since having a couple of drinks and driving is not illegal.
No, you don’t. Technically, you are not under arrest at that point, so you only have a legal right to speak with a lawyer after you’ve been arrested, booked, and processed, which also includes a chemical breath or blood test.
No, you shouldn’t. These tests can only be used as evidence against you, and there is no legal requirement that you must do so.
This is a tricky question to answer. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year, and you won’t be able to get any kind of restricted/limited work license during that period, either.
By agreeing and failing the test, you are giving the prosecution incriminating evidence against you. Neither choice is very good.
But in either case, there are often things we can do to fight back. There are ways to challenge both the refusal or the failure in court.
Will I be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in my car if I am found guilty of a DUI?
An ignition interlock device is a small electronic instrument (about the size of a cell phone) that connects to your car ignition. You must blow into it and register under .02 BAC (blood alcohol level) for it to allow the car to start. It may also require you to be tested at different intervals while driving.
Yes, under current Virginia DUI laws, if you are convicted of a DUI, you must have a device in any car or vehicle you drive when your license is reinstated. The period for which you will need the interlock device is at least 6 months, but depends on the judge’s sentence. Also see the VA interlock law.
After a 1st offense DUI conviction, you license is generally under suspension for one year. However, in most cases, you can get a restricted license that allows you to drive on a limited basis. You may not be eligible for a restricted license until after 30 days in some cases.
You can be sentenced to jail time, even on a first offense. And jail time is mandatory in some 1st offense DUI cases. For example,
- If you register over a .15 BAC on a breath test (high BAC), you will face amandatory 5 days in jail.
- If you are stopped with a minor passenger (17 years old or younger) and found guilty of a DUI, you will also face a mandatory/additional 5 days in jail.You could also be charged with felony child endangerment.
Additional penalty enhancements can also be in effect with these more serious circumstances, including larger fines, more community service, and an ignition interlock device for a high BAC result.
For more details, see my DUI penalties page, and call for a free case evaluation.
DUI laws are technical and complicated, and they often change. Penalties and procedures for getting your driver’s license back are also frequently changed by the Virginia DMV. Talk to us about your case, and I’ll give you the benefit of my experience in fighting and winning drunk driving trials. I’ll let you know exactly what I think is your best chance is to beat the case. Call me today.