In a study conducted by the personal finance website WalletHub, Virginia ranked in the top 10 for states with the strictest DUI enforcement laws. This is because, unlike the rest of the nation, our state not only requires more time in jail for offenders, it also costs drivers more in the long run. For those of our Leesburg readers who have encountered our DUI laws, this statistic is hardly surprising.
To better illustrate this study's findings, we'd like to take a look at some elements of our DUI laws. By highlighting the consequences you could face, we hope to stress the seriousness of committing a drunk-driving offense and encourage those who break the law to speak to a qualified DUI attorney.
Jail time after an arrest
This time varies depending on the amount of alcohol present in your system at the time of arrest, whether or not this is your first DUI offense, or if you are under the age of 21. Depending on these factors, a person could face anywhere between a mandatory minimum of five days in jail for first-time offenders whose BAC is between .15 and .20, and a maximum of five years in prison for a third DUI conviction with 10 years of a license suspension.
Refusing a breath test is a crime
Under Virginia law, it is unlawful to refuse to take a breath test. If you refuse a breath test and have already been convicted of a drunk-driving offense, then you could face a Class 2 misdemeanor charge. This criminal charge carries a three-year license suspension.
Driving drunk with a juvenile passenger is a crime
Our laws are stricter on drivers who commit the offense of driving under the influence while a juvenile passenger is also in the vehicle. Committing this crime could result in a mandatory five days in jail on top of any other jail terms associated with the DUI offense. In addition to this, a person may be ordered to pay a fine of at least $500 to as much as $1,000.
In Virginia, a person may also face steep criminal charges if drunk driving results in the death of another person. Charged with involuntary manslaughter, a person could see a prison sentence of a few years to upwards of 20 years. A person's license may also be revoked, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Sources: WCYB News, "Virginia & Tennessee among toughest states on DUI," Kristen Quon, June 17, 2015
Dmv.state.va.us, "Virginia Is Tough on Drunk and Drugged Drivers," Accessed July 14, 2015
Vacode.org, "§ 18.2-36.1 Certain conduct punishable as involuntary manslaughter," accessed July 14, 2015