DUI

DUI

What is Driving Under the Influence?

What are the penalties for a DUI conviction?

What does a conviction for DUI do to my insurance and license?

What can I expect from the Westlake Legal Group?

Why is it important to be represented by an attorney?

What does such a defense cost?

 

Q: What is Driving Under the Influence?
A: Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) is the most frequently charged crime in the world. Although originally designed as a crime to protect the public, its political aspects have led to increasingly harsh enforcement and constant lowering of thresholds to determine what is “under the influence.” It is the only crime where a defendant can be compelled to provide evidence against himself in the form of a breath test, that despite known irregularity, is given an inference of accuracy. As an aside, state and local governments also derive considerable revenue from DUI convictions. Because of their highly politicized nature, many attorneys do not pursue a litigation defense to DUI charges and only seek to reach a plea agreement with the government. The Westlake Legal Group refutes such an approach and strictly holds the government to its burden of proof.

The criminal offense of DUI is brought pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-266. The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt one of four allegations: (1) the defendant operated a vehicle while the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08 or greater; (2) the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; (3) the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of narcotics or illegal drugs; (4) the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of a combination of alcohol and narcotics or illegal drugs. DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor crime for a first offense, and can be a felony if one is convicted of three or more such offenses in a ten year period.

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Q: What are the penalties for a DUI conviction?
A: As a class one misdemeanor, the Court may sentence a person found guilty of DUI to a variety of penalties, depending on the number of subsequent offenses and the amount of intoxication:

First Offense

  • Jail of up to 12 months
    • If BAC is .15 or greater, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 5 days
    • If BAC is more than .20, there is a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days
  • Fine between $250 and $2500 plus court costs, or
  • A combination of jail time and a fine
  • Required probation and participation in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (“ASAP”) as well as attendance at Victim Impact Panel
  • A loss of license for one year is required
    • If BAC was .15 or greater, one who is convicted must install an ignition interlock device before being able to get a restricted license

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history. The loss of license is required, as are the mandatory jail sentences for high BACs.

Second Offense (within 5 years of First Offense)

  • Jail between 1 month and 12 months, or
    • Mandatory minimum jail term of 20 days
    • If BAC is between .15 and .20, there is a mandatory jail sentence of and additional 10 days
    • If BAC is more than .20, there is a mandatory jail sentence of an additional 20 days
  • Fine between $500 and $2500 plus court costs, or
  • A combination of jail time and a fine
  • Required probation and participation in ASAP as well as attendance at Victim Impact Panel
  • A loss of license for three years is required
    • If BAC was .15 or greater, one who is convicted must install an ignition interlock device before being able to get a restricted license

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history. The loss of license is required, as are the mandatory jail sentences for high BACs.

Second Offense (between 5 and 10 years of First Offense)

  • Jail between 1 month and 12 months, or
    • Mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days
    • If BAC is between .15 and .20, there is a mandatory jail sentence of an additional 10 days.
    • If BAC is more than .20, there is a mandatory jail sentence of an additional 20 days.
  • Fine between $500 and $2500 plus court costs, or
  • A combination of jail time and a fine.
  • Required probation and participation in ASAP as well as attendance at Victim Impact Panel
  • A loss of license for three years is required.
    • If BAC was .15 or greater, one who is convicted must install an ignition interlock device before being able to get a restricted license.

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history. The loss of license is required, as are the mandatory jail sentences for high BACs.

Third Offense in a 10 year period

  • Class 6 Felony classification.
  • Jail of up to 5 years authorized.
    • Mandatory jail term of 90 days. (180 day mandatory jail term if all three offenses committed in a 5 year period).
  • Loss of license indefinitely
  • Court fine of $500-$2500 plus court costs.
  • Required probation and participation in ASAP as well as attendance at Victim Impact Panel
  • State may seize vehicle

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history. The loss of license is required, as are the mandatory jail sentences for high BACs.

Fourth Offense within 10 years

  • Class 6 Felony classification.
  • Jail of up to 5 years authorized.
  • Mandatory jail term of 12 months.
  • Loss of license indefinitely
  • Court fine of $1,000-$2500 plus court costs.
  • Required probation and participation in ASAP as well as attendance at Victim Impact Panel
  • State may seize vehicle

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history. The loss of license is required, as are the mandatory jail sentences for high BACs.

Offense by Person under Age 21 (BAC of .02-less than .08)

  • Loss of license for six months.
  • Fine of not more than $500 plus court costs.

Whether the Court will impose some or all of the above penalties depends on the facts of each case and the person’s driving history.

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Q: What does a conviction for DUI do to my insurance and license?
A: Points on a driving records are not assessed by the Court. They are assessed by the DMV, and depending or one’s driving record, a conviction for DUI could result in an administrative suspension of one’s license by the DMV. At a minimum, a person convicted of DUI will be assessed (-6) points on their driving record by the DMV. Such a conviction will remain on the driving record and can be considered when determining insurance rates for a period of 11 years after conviction. A 2004 study concluded that a DUI conviction costs up to $20,000 over the life of a convicted defendant in the form of increased insurance premiums and other fees.

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Q: What can I expect from the Westlake Legal Group?
A: As part of your defense, attorneys at the Westlake Legal Group will fully examine all aspects of your arrest and the charges. There is no cookie-cutter approach to a criminal defense as each case is different. At a minimum, representation should involve:

  • A review of the circumstances of your arrest, to include talking to all available witnesses
  • Determination of the availability of pre-trial motions and discovery requests
  • Legal research for applicable standards and controlling legal authority.
  • Engineering a plan of action to include determining options and consequences of making those decisions.
  • Representation at trial and discussion of plea options, if any, presented by the Commonwealth Attorney.
  • Properly preserving a record in the event appeal is necessary.

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Q: Why is it important to be represented by an attorney?
A: Driving under the influence is a crime. It is not a traffic offense. There is a significant difference between having a traffic record and being a convicted criminal. Such a conviction can effect employment. If convicted, your license will be suspended for one year and you may not receive a restricted license. Not only is employment effected, but the daily activities of family life are compromised. Unfortunately, the law has evolved where the average citizen cannot risk representing themselves. The government does not care about your personal situation and has unlimited resources available to prosecute any case it chooses. You need an attorney with actual, successful trial experience. One that will not just strike a deal with the government; but, one that will properly assess your case and plan, with you, its outcome. A Westlake Legal Group attorney is what you need.

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Q: What does such a defense cost?
A: In driving under the influence, and other criminal matters, the Westlake Legal Group determines the fee at the time of being retained, based on the nature of the charge and the associated extenuating circumstances. Fees also vary depending on the type of defense selected, such as whether one should seek a jury trial or a bench trial. Usually, criminal defense fees are a flat fee. Westlake Legal Group accepts cash, checks, and all major credit cards.

Westlake Legal Group is your neighborhood law firm, serving all your legal needs. Contact us for assistance with your criminal defense, traffic offense, injury, contract dispute, business issue, real estate issue, or family law matter. We look forward to helping you resolve your problems.

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Potomac Falls Professional Center

Phone: 703-406-7616

Email: justice@westlakelegal.com

46175 Westlake Drive, Suite 320
Potomac Falls, VA  20165

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