Virginia Beach DUI Attorney
Should I Fight a DUI?
Just because you have been arrested for a DUI in Virginia, doesn’t mean that you are guilty of the crime. A conviction can lead to harsh penalties which can complicate your life. That is why it is important to obtain legal counsel from a skilled and knowledgeable Hampton Roads DUI lawyer.
At the Law Office of Shawn M. Cline, PC, we are committed to either getting your case dismissed altogether or your charges and penalties significantly reduced. Our Virginia Beach DUI lawyer has a comprehensive understanding of the Virginia drunk driving law in order to help you navigate the complexities and pitfalls of the criminal justice system. Let him protect your rights and future.
What Happens to My Driver's License After a DUI?
One of the biggest concerns for most citizens in DUI cases is what happens to my driver's license. A DUI can affect an individual's driving privileges in two ways.
Virginia Code 46.2-391.2 provides for an administrative suspension of your driver's license if you are arrested for DUI. Essentially, the officer will seize your driver's license during the arrest and return it to the court for disposition. The length of seizure will depend upon how many times the individual has been convicted of DUI.
- First offense: 7 days
- Second offense: 60 days
- Third or subsequent offense: suspended until the date of trial
Once you actually go to trial, the judge will revoke your license upon conviction. The judge cannot suspend any of this time.
- First offense: 1 year
- Second offense (within 10 years): 3 years
- Third offense: Indefinite revocation of your privilege to drive (you may apply for reinstatement after 3 years for a restricted license, and after 5 years for an unrestricted license)
Virginia Restricted License
For first and second DUI offenses the judge will often authorize the issuance of a restricted driver's license. However, it is important to note that the judge cannot authorize a restricted license if you are convicted of refusing a breathalyzer test. The terms of restricted licenses are up to the judge, but typically they allow an individual to drive to:
- Work (or during work if required by the job)
- Medical appointments
- Alcohol counseling
The specific terms of a restricted license are determined by the judge on a case by case basis.
What are the Penalties for DUI in Virginia?
When operating a motor vehicle in Virginia, the legal limit for driving under the influence is a BAC of .08 percent or higher. Aggravating factors such as having a BAC of .15 or higher, being involved in a car accident, causing great bodily harm to another individual, or traveling with a minor child can result in more severe consequences.
- A conviction for a first-time DUI offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $250 (maximum of up to $2,500) and your driver’s license will be revoked for one year.
- A conviction for a second offense results in a potential jail sentence of up to one year, a mandatory minimum fine of $500, and your driving privileges will be revoked for three years. A second offense within ten years of a previous DUI offense comes with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days. If it’s within five years, the mandatory minimum is 20 days.
While jail time, fines, and license suspension are serious penalties on their own, having a permanent mark on your criminal record can further damage your professional reputation and personal life. Even a DUI arrest could end up on your criminal record. That is why having a Virginia Beach DUI lawyer on your corner can help you avoid such consequences or have your criminal record expunged.
What Does "Implied Consent" Mean for a DUI Charge?
Usually the most powerful evidence that the prosecutor has in a DUI case is the breathalyzer result. This is rarely the only piece of evidence in a DUI case, but prosecutors rely heavily upon breathalyzer BAC (blood alcohol content) in the vast majority of cases. For this reason, the Virginia legislature has implemented Virginia Code Section 18.2-268.2, the Implied Consent Statute.
Essentially this statute provides that any person who operates a motor vehicle on a "highway" in the Commonwealth consents through such operation to have samples of their blood, breath, or both taken for a chemical analysis to determine the alcohol content in the blood. Unreasonable refusal to submit to a breath or blood test will result in a charge under 18.2-268.3 for refusal to take a breathalyzer.
There are many ways to attack the implied consent statute for those charged with unreasonable refusal, and there are many ways to use the implied consent statute to suppress a blood or breath result in a DUI case. One of the most glaring deficiencies in the implied consent statute is that it only applies on "highways". This does not mean that it is limited to interstates, or even to major streets; however, it does not include private property, and it does not include parking lots. A motorist who is stopped for DUI in a parking lot can be convicted of DUI but operating a motor vehicle in a parking lot does not invoke the implied consent statute, because a parking lot is not a highway.
The implied consent statute also only applies if the defendant is arrested within 3 hours of the operation of the vehicle. Further, the implied consent statute applies only after a lawful arrest. Every DUI charge involving a breathalyzer result must be examined closely to find the possible defects in police conduct that can result in suppression of the result.
In Virginia, unreasonable refusal to submit to a breathalyzer results in a 1-year suspension of driver’s license, pursuant to 18.2-268.3. The code specifically prohibits issuance of a restricted driver’s license during this one-year period. The result is that an individual convicted of unreasonable refusal cannot operate a motor vehicle anywhere for the next year. This is a serious sanction, and in many ways is worse than the penalties for the DUI itself.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Criminal Record in Virginia?
A DWI will stay on your driving record for 11 years but will stay forever in your criminal history. If someone just is looking at your Virginia driving transcript, then the DWI conviction will only be there for 11 years. That’s still a long time, but at least it’s not the rest of your life. If you’re charged with a DUI in Virginia, you need to know that it’s a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor. If you are charged with Virginia DUI, you will have a 7-day suspension of your license for a first offense – or a 60-day suspension for a second offense. After the pre-trial suspension is over, you should be able to pick your license up in person at the clerk’s office. They will sometimes mail it to you as well. If the clerks don’t have your license or it gets lost in the mail, you can request a re-issue of your license from Virginia DMV.
What to Do After a DUI Arrest?
The moment you are arrested for a DUI, you need to contact our trusted and experienced Virginia Beach DUI attorney from the Law Office of Shawn M. Cline, PC. We can investigate your arrest, gather and evaluate evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy to get the most favorable results.
We have convenient locations in the cities of Virginia Beach and Hampton, so if you are a resident of Hampton Roads, don't hesitate to reach out to the firm!