Virginia's handling of habitual offenders convicted of DUI

In Virginia, anyone who's been convicted of either 12 minor or 3 major drunk driving convictions during a single 10-year period may be labeled as a habitual offender by either court officials or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Being labeled as such is not something that should be taken lightly as the state views it as a serious offense. If you are stopped for driving drunk as a habitual offender, then there's a strong likelihood of you not just being fined, but also being sent to prison. How your new case will be handled is largely contingent upon the nature of your offense.

Once you're labeled as a habitual offender, the first violation that you're charged with will likely be a misdemeanor, provided that you don't put another person or his or her property in danger with your actions. If you are convicted of such a crime, then you'll have to spend a mandatory 10 days in jail, but could be ordered to be locked up as long as 90 days. In addition to being incarcerated, you'll have to pay as much as $2,500 in fines as well.

Habitual offenders who are convicted of having driven either drugged or drunk at the time that they caused damage to another's property or person will likely be charged with a felony. State prison terms in cases like this generally last at least one year, but generally do not exceed five.

Those habitual offenders who are convicted of two or more drunk driving offenses that resulted in property damage or a person's injuries will continue to face felony charges in each of their subsequent cases. Each offense may also result in a minimum one year prison term up to a maximum five year term.

If you've been labeled as a habitual offender and you're once again facing drunk driving charges, then a Christiansburg attorney can advise you of your rights in your case.

Source: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Habitual offender," accessed June 01, 2018

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