In West Virginia, you can be charged with driving under the influence if you are driving and have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher; if you are under the age of 21, the legal limit is .02. West Virginia DUI Laws are per se, meaning that even if your driving was not impaired, you can still be charged with a DUI based on your BAC alone. State law also prohibits people from driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription drugs if they impair someone’s ability to drive.
Felony DUI Charges
The first two times that someone is charged with a DUI, the charges are considered to be misdemeanors. After the second conviction, any additional charges within a 10-year period will be felony DUI charges. Additionally, if someone’s actions while driving while intoxicated lead to the death of an individual, the DUI charges will be felony charges.
While people will only face felony DUI charges for repeat convictions and causing the death of an individual, there are several ways that someone may face stiffer penalties for a misdemeanor charge. According to West Virginia DUI Laws, individuals with a BAC of .15 or higher can be charged with an aggravated DUI that carries a mandatory minimum 48 hours in jail and a maximum of six months. Their maximum fine is also $1,000, double the normal first DUI conviction fine. If a person is injured by someone who was drinking and driving, they must spend at least 24 hours in jail and no more than one year, and they also face fines up to $1,000 as well as a two year license suspension.
West Virginia DUI Laws prevent someone from getting out of a DUI by refusing to take a BAC chemical test. For a first-time refusal, the offender’s license will be suspended for a year; however, these individuals have the option of having an interlock device installed in their vehicle for a year after 45 days of suspension. Penalties for a second and third refusal increase dramatically. A second refusal can lead to a five- to 10-year license suspension, and a third can cause a lifetime suspension.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device prevents a car from starting until someone has provided a breath sample that is under the legal limit. For a first time DUI conviction, these devices offer a way to restore driving privileges before a license suspension is up. With repeat convictions, it becomes mandatory for a period of time after a license suspension is lifted.
Reinstating a License
Before someone’s license can be reinstated, they must complete a safety and treatment program as well as providing an SR22 form to the DMV. The form proves that an individual has current automobile insurance, and if the insurance lapses, the company must alert the DMV. The form must be carried for three years following reinstatement.
Changes to West Virginia DUI Laws in 2008
With SB535, West Virginia added a the provision for aggravated DUI in 2008. The legislation created stricter punishment for individuals caught driving with a BAC of .15 or higher. Previously, these individuals were subject to the same penalties as other DUI offenders. The state bill also eliminated the minimum 24-hour jail sentence for first-time DUI offenders who register below .15 BAC.