How drunk driving is punished in Virginia

In Virginia, it's illegal to drive a car or operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. For those over 21, any blood alcohol content (BAC) result at or above 0.08 percent is considered to indicate intoxication.

Although it's illegal for those under 21 to consume alcohol in Virginia, if you do, and then get behind the wheel of a car, a BAC of 0.02 is considered to be drunk driving. Depending on the circumstances of your case, such as whether you were speeding, driving recklessly, crashed into someone or something or injured someone, you may face additional charges as well.

An individual can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia provided they meet one of two different criteria. In one instance, a police officer may pull a driver over because they suspect that they're driving drunk. Before they place you under arrest, they'll have you complete a number of field sobriety exercises to confirm their suspicions.

Alternatively, a police officer who stops you for driving erratically may ask you to submit to chemical, also known as blood, urine, or breath, testing. If any of these result at or above 0.08 percent, you'll likely be arrested for drunk driving.

If you're under 21 and arrested for drunk driving in Virginia, you could face stiff penalties under the state's zero tolerance program.

If it's your first conviction for a DUI, you will be charged with a first class misdemeanor, have your license suspended for up to a year and also be fined as much as $2,500. If your BAC results reflect a percentage of at or above 0.15 percent, you could be required to spend as much as 30 days in jail as well.

In addition to the aforementioned penalties, any conviction for a DUI in Virginia requires the offender to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. A conviction for a misdemeanor DUI offense will also forever remain visible on your criminal record.

If you've been charged with an alcohol- or drug-related driving offense, a Virginia DUI defense attorney can advise you of potential penalties and strategies for your legal case.

Source: FindLaw, "Virginia DUI laws," accessed Oct. 13, 2017

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