According to the NHTSA, 37 people die every day due to drunk driving.
That’s a lot!
And that’s also very sad.
Especially since driving under the influence can easily be avoided.
To help counter those statistics, Virginia places strict DUI laws.
It is your responsibility to know and obey these laws.
This is why, today, we’re going to tell you all you need to know about Virginia DUI laws.
So let’s get straight to it!
DUI Laws in Virginia
In this section, we’ll look at:
- Illegal BAC levels
- Implied Consent Law
- Open Alcohol Container Law
- Other alcoholic laws for under-21s
Illegal BAC Levels
Virginia uses Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels to measure how much alcohol is in your system.
It’s considered a DUI if:
- Your BAC level is 0.08% or higher – for those 21 and above
- Your BAC level is 0.04% or higher – for those who hold a commercial license
- Your BAC level is 0.02% or higher – for those below 21
Take note that even if your BAC level is below the illegal limit, you may still be charged with DUI if you show obvious signs of impairment.
What does impaired driving look like?
Some examples include:
- Inconsistent signaling
- Slow response to vehicles or traffic signals
- Overspeeding or driving too slowly
- Sudden breaking or stopping
- Frequent lane changes
If a police officer suspects impaired driving, they will ask you to stop.
Implied Consent Law
If you’re stopped by a police officer for suspected DUI, they will ask you to take a breath or blood test to see your BAC level.
Virginia law states that you must submit to the test.
This is the Implied Consent Law.
It’s implied consent because drivers are assumed to have consented to take DUI tests if they operate on Virginia roads.
If you refuse, you’ll face a license suspension.
- First offense – 7 days suspension
- Second offense – 60 days or until you go to trial, whichever comes first
- Third offense – until the trial
Again, even if your BAC level is not known, you can still be charged with DUI if you show signs of impairment.
So it’s always best to submit to the test — even if you think you have a low BAC.
Open Alcohol Container Law
Some Virginia DUI laws spot drunk drivers.
Other laws prevent drunk driving.
And one of these laws is the Open Alcohol Container Law.
Here, you are prohibited from transporting an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.
If there is an open container found within the driver’s reach, then that is already breaking the law.
The only time you can transport open alcoholic containers is if:
- You are riding a service vehicle, like a limousine
- The opened container is out of reach, this can include placed in the trunk or a locked glove compartment
Other Alcoholic Laws for Under-21s
Here’s another preventive DUI law.
Minors under 21 years old are NOT allowed to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol.
If you are caught for a DUI and your BAC is between 0.02% and 0.08%, your driving privileges will be suspended for a year, you have to pay a $500 fine, and you’re required to complete 50 hours of community service.
If your BAC is 0.08% and above, then expect even harsher penalties your way.
Moreover, if you attempt or use a fake ID to purchase or drink alcohol, you will face these penalties:
- A fine of at least $500
- 50 hours of community service
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for 6-12 months
For those who are 21 and above, providing and selling alcohol to people below 21 years old is strictly not allowed. You will be fined $2,500, be given a mandatory license suspension of up to 1 year, and spend 12 months in jail.
Again, this is all to prevent driving under the influence for the less experienced drivers.
DUI Penalties in Virginia
We’ve touched on several penalties of related Virginia DUI laws…
But what are the penalties you face if you’re found to be driving under the influence?
Check the table below for details.
|Fine||License revocation||Jail Time||Additional penalties|
|2nd||$500||3 years||Possible jail time of up to 1 year.|
If within 10 years of the first conviction – a minimum of 10 days mandatory jail.
If within 5 years – a minimum of 20 days mandatory jail.
|3rd||At least $1,000||Indefinite||If within 10 years – a minimum of 90 days|
If within 5 years of 2nd offense – a minimum of 6 months
|Permanent forfeiture of your vehicle if you are the sole owner|
Considered a Class 6 felony
On top of that, if your BAC level is 0.15% to 0.20%, you face these penalties:
- First offense – minimum of 5 days in jail on top of other penalties
- Second offense within 10 years – minimum of 10 days in jail on top of other penalties
For those with a BAC level of 0.20% or higher:
- First offense – minimum of 10 days in jail on top of the penalties
- Second offense within 10 years – minimum of 20 days in jail on top of other penalties
Expect even harsher penalties to be applied if your drunk driving caused damage, injuries, or death.
What You Should Know About DUI
Here are important things you should know about DUI:
- Even one alcoholic drink can impair your driving. Even if you think you have a “high tolerance”, your body isn’t immune to the effects of alcohol.
- Alcohol affects your judgment, ability to focus, and reaction time. Not having these 3 factors can lead to reckless driving or crashes.
- Caffeine, exercise, and cold showers cannot immediately make you sober. Only time can remove the alcohol content in your bloodstream.
- Never combine drugs and alcohol. Drugs can heighten the effects of alcohol.
If you’re planning to drink, make sure to assign someone who isn’t drinking to drive. If there’s no one to do it, best to choose a public means of transport.
Remember, DUI doesn’t only come with its harsh penalties — it comes with casualties that cannot be undone.
FAQs About Virginia DUI Laws
Is There Mandatory Jail Time for DUI in Virginia?
Yes, mandatory jail time is given to those who have received a second DUI offense within 5 years of the first charge. It is also mandatory for those whose BAC level exceeds 0.15%.
Do You Lose Your License Immediately After a DUI in Virginia?
Your first DUI offense will give you a 12-month license revocation. This is very long, which is why it’s highly discouraged for people to even attempt to drink and drive.
Is a DUI a Felony in Virginia?
A DUI is considered a felony if it’s a third offense. Otherwise, it is a misdemeanor. Of course, if your DUI led to property damage, injuries, or death, then it will be classed as a felony.
How Do You Get a DUI Dismissed in Virginia?
In Virginia, you have a chance to dismiss your DUI charge. However, you need to prove the following:
- There was an unlawful stop
- There was an illegal search and seizure or the police didn’t follow the right procedures in searching a person or their vehicle
- The blood or breath test results are inaccurate or invalid
If you want to get a DUI dismissed, it’s highly recommended to get a DUI attorney.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Virginia?
Unfortunately, you can’t remove a DUI from your driver’s criminal record. It stays there forever. But when it comes to your DMV record, a DUI charge will stay on there for 11 years.
Will DUI Fail Background Check in Virginia?
DUI charges are public records, so employers, insurance companies, or people can view this easily. And when they spot this, they may or may not fail your background check.
If there’s only one takeaway from learning about Virginia DUI laws, it should be this…
NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE.
If you can’t help but drink, then make sure that there’s a safe way for you to go home without getting behind the wheel.
Even if you think you won’t cause an accident (or be caught), don’t risk it.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Be a responsible driver!