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Consequences are harsh in Virginia DUI cases

For anyone who gets pulled over for a suspected drunk driving offense, knowing their rights and responsibilities during the traffic stop and throughout the subsequent legal proceedings is vital. One of the considerations for drivers who are stopped is whether to participate in a Breathalyzer test.

In Virginia, you don't have the option of asking for a blood test to test your blood alcohol concentration. You do have the right to refuse the Breathalyzer test, but you should be aware of the consequences of doing so.

If it is your first DUI offense or breath test refusal, you will lose your driver's license if your BAC is found to be at or above the state minimum of .08 percent. This suspension will last seven days. The length of suspension increases for subsequent offenses, so if it is your third offense, your license is suspended until your trial.

On top of those considerations, you also have to consider the potential consequences of a conviction. If it is your first DUI conviction, you will lose your license for a year and face a mandatory fine of $250 at a minimum. A second DUI conviction carries a jail sentence of up to a year, a 3-year license revocation and a minimum of a $500 fine. A 10-day minimum jail term applies to second convictions that occur within 10 years of the first offense.

When you consider those consequences for breath test refusal and for convictions, it is easy to see why knowing your rights and understanding your responsibilities is necessary. A complete understanding of the laws might help you to present a defense that keeps the potential consequences to a minimum.

Source: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "Virginia is Tough on Drunk and Drugged Drivers" Sep. 11, 2014

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