Fairfax DUI Defense Attorneys
DUI/DWI Charges in Virginia
Driving under the influence, or driving while intoxicated, as it is sometimes referred to, is a serious crime in Virginia. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, or if you refused to take a chemical test when requested, you could be facing harsh criminal penalties, including jail time, steep fines, and probation. You could also be at risk of losing your driving license for up to a year or more. Because of this, it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to aggressively defend your rights and protect your future.
At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, our Fairfax DUI defense attorneys can represent you from the time of your arrest through your arraignment and at all subsequent court appearances and filings. We can provide you with complete and specific information on Virginia’s DUI/DWI laws and explain how they may apply to your case.
Do not put your future at risk. Contact our office today at (833) 460-2848 to discuss your DUI/DWI case and your options for resolving the matter.
What Is the Difference Between DUI & DWI?
In Virginia, the terms DUI and DWI are used interchangeably. While DUI refers to “driving under the influence,” DWI means “driving while intoxicated. Virginia Code § 18.2-266, the law defining drunk driving as a crime, references both driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs and driving while intoxicated; thus, the two terms essentially mean the same thing.
Most people know it as “DUI.” However, not everyone realizes that DUI doesn’t only refer to driving a car while drunk but can also mean operating any type of vehicle while under the influence or impaired by alcohol or drugs. This means both illegal substances and prescription or over-the-counter medications that can impair, such as sleeping aids.
Understanding Virginia’s DUI/DWI Laws
Like most states, Virginia’s DUI laws define “intoxication” as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above. For people under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.02%, and commercial vehicle operators cannot drive with a BAC of 0.04% or above.
Note that you could be arrested and charged with DUI if your BAC falls below the legal limit. If the arresting officer has reason to believe you are sufficiently impaired to be unable to safely operate a vehicle, you may be arrested for DUI, regardless of your BAC.
Additionally, you do not have to actually be operating a vehicle to be charged with DUI in Virginia. If the arresting officer reasonably believes that you have or could be in control of a vehicle, you could face charges. For example, if you are sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition, you could be arrested for DUI—even if you are parked and the car is turned off.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in Virginia?
The penalties for DUI/DWI depend on various circumstances surrounding your arrest. In addition to the presence of certain aggravating factors, such as causing an accident with injuries or having a minor in the vehicle, as well as your BAC, DUI penalties are typically dependent on whether you have been convicted of DUI in the past 5 or 10 years.
If you are arrested for DUI in Virginia, you could face the following penalties:
- First-Time DUI: For a typical first-time DUI in Virginia, you face Class 1 misdemeanor charges, which carries a fine of $250 to $2,500, as well as a one-year driver’s license suspension. If your BAC was 0.15% or above, you could also face 5 to 30 days in jail. For any DUI conviction in Virginia, you will need to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle.
- Second-Time DUI: If you are arrested for DUI for a second time within 10 years, you face anywhere from 10 days to up to 1 year in jail and $500 to $2,500 in fines, as well as additional fees ranging from $50 to $300. If your previous DUI conviction occurred within the past 5 years, you face 20 days to up to 1 year in jail. The minimum jail sentence can increase if your BAC was 0.15%, 0.20%, or higher at the time of your arrest. A second DUI arrest also results in a three-year driver’s license suspension and the mandatory installation of IID on your vehicle.
- Third-Time DUI: In Virginia, a third DUI arrest within the past 5 to 10 years is typically charged as a felony. As such, you could face anywhere from 1 to 5 years in prison. In some cases, the judge may order jail time, rather than prison time, with a minimum jail sentence of 60 days before being released on probation. The fines for a third-time DUI in Virginia range from $1,000 to $2,500 with possible additional fees, and your driver’s license could be permanently revoked. Additionally, the court may order that your vehicle be forfeited.
- Fourth or Subsequent DUI: If you are arrested for a fourth or subsequent DUI in Virginia, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. However, the fines could reach up to $2,500, and prison time may be extended depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Additionally, your driver’s license will be confiscated immediately and may be revoked permanently if you are convicted. You may also be required to forfeit your vehicle.
These are just some of the penalties you could face if you are convicted of DUI. It is important that you act fast after your arrest, as you have a limited amount of time to request an administrative hearing to reinstate your driver’s license. We urge you to contact our Fairfax DUI defense lawyers right away for a free and confidential consultation.
Strong Penalties Demand a Strong Defense
Alcohol-related traffic offenses carry mandatory minimum penalties ranging from fines and restricted driver’s licenses for a first offense to a year in jail, heavy fines, and a possible permanent revocation of your driver’s license for the fourth offense in 5 or 10 years.
Some of these penalties—including jail time, fines, ignition interlock devices, and license suspension or revocation—may be avoided with the appropriate defense. In addition, if a dismissal or reduction of the charges is not possible, our DUI defense attorneys can present the court with a case for the most favorable sentencing options available.
Getting Your Driver’s License Reinstated
The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) guidelines allow either restricted or full restoration of driving privileges, even for those people found to be habitual offenders. At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, we can help you present your application in the most positive light, showing that you have fulfilled the requirements for restoration, including verifiable abstinence from drugs and alcohol and identifiable changes toward a more positive lifestyle.
DUI charges can often be accompanied by other traffic violations and/or drug charges. If this is true in your case, our attorneys can represent you effectively in these matters as well. In fact, Attorney Ronald Smith is the co-author of a continuing legal education (CLE) textbook and a frequent CLE lecturer on these subjects.
Don’t Let a Mistake Ruin Your Future
We have over 40 years of experience defending clients against the consequences of DUIs. You can count on us to guide you and fight for the best possible results. Contact our office today for a free consultation to discuss your case with an accomplished DUI attorney today.
Call (833) 460-2848 or contact us online to get started.
At Lawrence, Smith & Gardner, your satisfaction is our priority! See for yourself what our clients have to say about working with us.
Dear Mr. Brillantine and Mr. Smith,
Thank you so much for your time and effort in the past several weeks. I am forever grateful for your help! Thank you.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
I just wanted to drop you a note to express my thanks and appreciation for your professional and courteous help and service. The efficient way you and your staff handled my case, resulted in less anxiety for me.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
We just want to thank you for all your help in our son’s recent traffic case. Things were looking extremely bleak. However, thanks to your knowledge of the law, persistence, ability to talk to people, hard work and grace … What a relief it has been. We also appreciate the courtesy and professionalism of your wonderful staff.- Previous Client
I am consumed with awe for your legal maneuvering to assist me in court yesterday. Thank you for making it possible for me to continue with my life.- Previous Client
To Ron Smith,
I just wanted to extend my gratitude to you for representing me earlier this month when I went back to court to obtain my restricted license. I appreciate the courtesy and professionalism from you and your staff and under no circumstances hope to ever need your services for a serious matter like that again.- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for all your help. Please extend my thanks also to Martin for his patient support of an incoherent client, as well as to Lisa for her many phone calls. Thanks for that usually elusive gift … a second chance.- Previous Client
I can’t thank you enough for everything. If it weren’t for you I would be in a world of hurt today. I owe you so many thanks. If you ever need anything!! Please pass along all my thanks to your staff and co-workers. Please let Lisa I’m so sorry you missed her lunch too. Thanks again Ron you ROCK!- Previous Client
Dear Mr. Smith,
I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for your help with my recent difficult situation. I was amazed at your skill and knowledge of the court system, and appreciative of your insight in these matters. I can look back on this experience as a valuable lesson and continue on with my life. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.- Previous Client