DUI laws are different for each state, so it can be difficult to keep track of the specific penalties you might face if convicted of a DUI.
If you or a loved one recently faced a DUI arrest, you might be left wondering—is drunk driving a felony in Virginia?
Read on to learn which DUI cases are felonies vs. misdemeanors in Virginia, the penalties and legal repercussions you might face for each, and how to best navigate the path forward.
When Can You Be Charged with a Felony DUI?
So, is a DUI a felony in Virginia?
Fortunately, first-offense and second-offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors—not felonies. The same can be said for the second refusal of a breath or blood test. Only the third-offense (and subsequent) DUI is considered a Class 6 felony in Virginia.
So, what happens if you receive a third-offense DUI charge in Virginia?
- If you’re convicted for your third-offense within five years of your second DUI offense, you’ll automatically serve a six-month mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- If you’re convicted of a third-offense DUI within ten years of your second, you’ll serve 90 days of jail time and be required to forfeit your vehicle permanently.
- If you’re convicted of your fourth (or any subsequent) DUI, you’ll serve a mandatory of one-year of jail time.
Penalties for DUIs in Virginia
Whether you’re charged with a first- or second-offense DUI misdemeanor or a third- or subsequent-offense felony, DUIs carry several automatic penalties in Virginia. After your first-offense DUI in Virginia, you’ll be faced with1:
- A fine of at least $250
- Revocation of your driver’s license for one year
- Required enrollment in an Alcohol Safety Action Program
- Required installment of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) which won’t allow your car to start until you pass a breath test
- If you were transporting a minor (someone under 17), a five-day jail term and an additional fine of $500-$1,000
After your second offense, you’ll face1:
- A fine of at least $500
- Revocation of your driver’s license for three years
- A possible jail term of up to a year
- If you were transporting a minor for the second time, 80 hours of community service
After your third (Class 6 felony) offense, you’ll face1:
- A fine of at least $1,000
- Indefinite driver’s license revocation (will run consecutively with previous revocations)
- Prosecution as a felony
- The aforementioned jail term:
- Six months if within five years of second offense
- Ninety days if within ten years of second offense (plus vehicle forfeiture)
- One year (if fourth or subsequent offense)
It’s important to note that additional penalties exist based on your BAC:
- If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you’re legally considered “under the influence.” (A BAC of at least 0.02% means you’re legally driving “buzzed,” and you’ll automatically be charged with a DUI if you’re under 21.)2
- A BAC between 0.15% and 0.20% (at which point you might experience lapses in memory, “blacking out,” nausea, and vomiting) at the time of your arrest means you’ll face a five-day jail term (ten days for a second DUI offense).3
- A BAC of 0.20% or above (at which point you are at risk of loss of physical coordination, passing out, and changes in heartbeat/blood pressure/breathing pattern) means you’ll face a ten-day jail term (twenty days for the second offense).
See related: DWI vs. DUI in Virginia
Legal Consequences for Felony DUIs Virginia
If you’re charged with a third-offense DUI, you’ll go to trial for prosecution for a Class 6 felony. To ensure the best possible outcome, search for a DUI attorney as soon as possible (either immediately or as soon as you’ve served your jail term).
Remember that law enforcement will immediately report any DUI arrest in Virginia to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. This means that even if you’re not ultimately convicted of a felony (or even a misdemeanor), you could end up with a criminal record because of your DUI arrest.
How to Navigate Your DUI
If you’re facing a Virginia DUI offense, it’s best to act as soon as possible. Search for an attorney at your earliest convenience and request a bond hearing if necessary. Then, read up on your potential penalties and prepare for your trial and any potential consequences.
Preparation might look like:
- Gathering funds to pay fines
- Looking into purchasing an Ignition Interlock Device
- Making alternative transportation arrangements should your license and/or vehicle be seized
- Looking into community service options
Preparing yourself in the event that you’re convicted means that you can start your journey forward as soon as possible.
Get Started Sooner with Smart Start
Smart Start Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) take the hassle out of your IID requirement. If you’re searching for an Ignition Interlock in Virginia, Smart Start devices are an affordable, discreet, and easy-to-install option.
With a sleek, three-button design, Smart Start devices are only about the size of a smartphone and come equipped with long cords so that they can move freely around your driver’s seat area. It’s also easy to have one installed at one of thousands of convenient service centers, and bi-weekly or monthly payment plans can be arranged. When you enroll in a payment plan with auto-pay, you’ll even receive $5 off your monthly IID lease payment.
Smart Start is the smartest way to start your journey back on the road. Reach out to us today to learn more.
- Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Virginia is TOUGH on drunk and drugged drivers. https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/forms/dmv168.pdf
- Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Drinking and Driving. https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/safety/programs/drinking/drinking-driving
- University of Central Florida. Learn more about BAC. https://whps.sdes.ucf.edu/learn-more-about-bac/
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