Whether you live in Gloucester or Hampton, Newport News or Essex, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, it’s against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or another impairing substance. If a person is convicted of drunk driving, they could be at risk of serious consequences – some of which may have immediate and long-term effects. If you are charged with drunk driving in Virginia, be sure to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C., our drunk driving attorneys are here to represent you. Call us today for the legal counsel and support you can count on.
Defining Drunk Driving in Virginia
Most people assume that so long as their blood alcohol concentration level is below .08 percent, they won’t be subject to a drunk driving arrest and charge. While this may be true in some cases, it’s important to note that a BAC of .08 percent or above is not the only way in which Virginia’s prohibition on driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated is breached. Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-266, it’s unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or greater or while under the influence of alcohol or while under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered drug. This means that even if the police don’t have proof of your BAC, you could still be convicted of a DUI if there is compelling evidence that you were driving under the influence.
Penalties for Driving While Impaired in Virginia
The penalties for driving while impaired in Virginia become more serious if a defendant has more than one DUI on their record. In general, though, the penalties for a first-offense DUI include a fine of up to $2,500 (minimum of $250), jail time of up to 12 months (there is a minimum incarceration period of 10 days for a second offense), a one-year license suspension, and a mandatory attendance at alcohol education classes. For DUI convictions that are second offenses or that involve a BAC of .15 percent or above, the penalties increase.
Defenses to a DUI
There are few defenses to a DUI charge that may be appropriate depending on the details of your case. These include:
- You were not, in fact, intoxicated and any evidence against you (such as swerving) can be explained by something else, such as fatigued, distracted driving, etc.
- The breathalyzer used in your case was faulty
- The police illegally stopped you
- A roadside sobriety test was not properly conducted
- You were intoxicated, but without intent – for example, perhaps you were given an intoxicating substance or took a prescription medication that had intoxicated side effects of which you were unaware.
Our law firm will serve you by reviewing the prosecution’s evidence against you and making a recommendation about which line of defence is most appropriate in your case.
In some cases, arguing that you are “not guilty” isn’t as productive as is negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution, particularly when the evidence against you is especially incriminating. If this is the case for you, we will handle negotiations on your behalf.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
If you are arrested, charged with, and convicted of a DUI, the consequences can be significant. Not only are you looking at the possible loss of your license, jail time, and a large fine, but you are also looking at a mark on your criminal record that may affect your ability to get a job, pursue educational or volunteer opportunities, and more. In some cases, custody of your children may even be at risk. If you are a young person who is about to go to college, a DUI could be severely frowned upon and harm your chances of being accepted at the institution of your choice.
While there is no guarantee that working with an attorney will result in a better case outcome, it is more likely that by working with an attorney you will escape the most severe of consequences.
Call Our Drunk Driving Lawyers Today
If you are facing charges for drunk driving in our state, don’t hesitate to reach out to our drunk driving lawyers at the Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C. directly today. We are here to advocate for you and have the experience and case results you can count on.