Both state law and the circumstances leading to someone’s arrest will determine what charges they face. Many driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Virginia are misdemeanor offenses. The person accused risks jail time and other significant penalties, like fines and the loss of their driver’s license, if they do not defend themselves. However, the blemish on their criminal record will be a misdemeanor offense.
Many employers and other parties that perform background checks are more comfortable working with those who have a misdemeanor on their record as compared to those who have felony offenses on their criminal record.
What are the circumstances in which Virginia might charge you with a felony DUI offense?
There are two reasons for a felony DUI charge
Virginia law creates two specific scenarios in which prosecutors can bring felony charges against an individual for a drunk driving offense. When you face a third DUI charge within 10 years of your first, that third conviction becomes a felony. The state can also charge you with a felony DUI offense when you cause a crash that hurts or kills others.
What are the penalties for a felony DUI?
If you plead guilty to a felony DUI charge based on your driving history, you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days, in addition to fines and the suspension of your driver’s license. Those with professional licenses may lose their licenses because of a felony conviction. In some cases, the state could charge a driver with a Class 4 felony instead of a Class 6 felony, which will mean more serious penalties.
How can you protect yourself from felony charges?
One of the simplest ways to reduce your risk of facing felony DUI charges is to defend against first or second DUI charges so that you won’t have to worry about a third offense. Defense strategies can range from challenging the validity of a traffic stop to challenging the accuracy of chemical test results.
Typically, those accused of impaired driving offenses will need to review the evidence the state has before settling on a specific strategy. Understanding the possible charges and penalties when accused of impaired driving in Virginia can help you make the best decision possible regarding your defense.