In Virginia, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08 percent. Drivers age 21 or older who are operating a vehicle at this level of intoxication can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The legal limit drops to .04 percent for commercial drivers and .02 percent for those under the legal drinking age of 21.
Implied Consent Law
Virginia drivers are all subject to the state’s implied consent laws. This means that if you are arrested with probable cause for driving under the influence, you are required to a chemical test of your breath or blood. You may also be asked to take a field sobriety test before you are even arrested, but you don’t have to agree to this preliminary test. Once you are arrested, however, if you do not consent to a blood or breath test, your license will automatically be suspended for a one-year period. The suspension increases to three years for subsequent offenses (or refusals). This applies if your second offense occurs 10 years or less after your first offense. If more than 10 years have passed between your first and second offense, your second refusal will carry only a one-year suspension.
Multiple DUI convictions can result in a felony charge. When you are convicted of a DUI, the court will “look back” for a period of 10 years for prior convictions. If you receive a third such conviction in 10 years, you will be charged with a felony. Your jail time will depend on how close the third offense was to the second and whether or not there were any minors in the car with you. You will be fined at least $1,000, and if your license is eventually reinstated, you will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle that will prevent you from starting the car without first passing a breathalyzer.
Changes to Virginia DUI Laws
In 2010, Virginia DUI laws were changed to require that your car be impounded if you continue to drive on a suspended license after you have been convicted of a DUI. In this event, your car will be impounded for at least 90 days. Additionally, school bus drivers now face increased Class 1 misdemeanor charges if they are convicted driving a bus while under the influence.
Four Senate bills passed in 2009 made changes to Virginia DUI laws. To get your license restored after a second DUI conviction, you must now have an ignition interlock device installed. This is for all second-time offenders, no matter when their first conviction occurred. Also, if you are convicted of a DUI and are required to use an ignition interlock device, but you drive a vehicle without doing so, your license will be revoked for a full year.
In 2008, House Bill 719 specified penalties four underage DUIs. It made the offense a Class 1 misdemeanor and requires convicted individual to forfeit their driver’s licenses for one year.