In Virginia, if you operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08 or above, you may be charged with and convicted of drinking and driving. Known as DUI (driving while intoxicated or impaired) or DWI (driving while intoxicated or impaired), this offense can have serious consequences for your life, even if it is your first DUI in Virginia. Convictions may result in incarceration, fines, suspension of the driver’s license, and other consequences. To mitigate or eliminate the penalties, you must defend the charge, which requires the assistance of an expert Virginia DUI attorney who can guide you through the difficult judicial process.
At David A.C. Long, we fight for the rights and liberties of persons facing DUI charges. DUI cases are extremely complex and include a scientific component not found in other types of criminal prosecutions. To provide a viable defense against a first offense DUI in Virginia, our staff stays current on legislative changes and advances in technology.
How Is “Impaired” Driving Defined in Virginia?
According to Virginia Code 18.2-266, a DWI charge may be filed if a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is impaired. According to Virginia courts, a person is impaired or inebriated when their mental and/or bodily faculties are harmed.
If any of the following are impaired by drugs or alcohol, a person may face a DWI charge:
- Muscle Movement
- Appearance in general
The prosecution will attempt to get a conviction in Virginia first offense DUI cases by calling the arresting officer to testify.
To establish a connection between the driver’s activities and the definition of impairment, the officer may declare that they noticed the following:
- Slowly or incoherently speaking
- Their speech is slurred
- While walking or standing, swaying
- Supporting oneself using objects
- Having difficulty balancing
Can I Still Be Charged with a DWI in Virginia if I Wasn’t Driving?
Yes. Even if you were not driving your automobile at the time, an officer may arrest you for a DUI. That is because Virginia law defines the infraction as “driving or operating any motor vehicle.”
The definition of “driving” is self-explanatory: you are behind the wheel as you travel down the road.
However, things become a little more complicated when it comes to defining “functioning.” In essence, you’re seated in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition. It makes no difference whether the vehicle was running or not. For example, you could be charged if you consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages and then proceeded to your car to listen to the radio. You may even be charged with the violation if your car became stranded somewhere and you were in the driver’s seat with your keys in the ignition.
You may be charged with DWI even if you are not in the driver’s seat. Assume your friend is driving, but you eventually take the wheel. You now have “physical control” of the car as a result of your actions.
Can I Be Charged with a DWI for Riding a Bicycle While Intoxicated?
According to Virginia law, a person commits a DWI crime if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, if you are riding your bike while intoxicated, you cannot be charged under state law. However, if you are on government territory, such as a national park, you may face prosecution for drinking and driving, as federal law defines it as being intoxicated while operating a vehicle, including bicycles.
What Are the Penalties in Virginia for a First-Time DUI?
A first-time DUI conviction in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Convictions carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500, with a mandatory minimum fine of $250. If the individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured between.15 and.20, the obligatory minimum jail sentence is five days. It would be extended to ten days if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was greater than.20.
Along with incarceration and fines, a first-time DUI conviction leads in a one-year revocation of the driver’s license.
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