What Happens if You Get a DUI for the First Time in Virginia?

Being arrested and charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) can be a traumatic experience, especially if it’s your first offense. If you’ve never been charged with a DUI before, you might not know what to expect or be familiar with the potential penalties you could face.

If you were charged with a DUI in Virginia Beach, it’s critical to hire a reputable DUI defense attorney to handle your case. A skilled lawyer will protect your rights during the legal process and might be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

What Constitutes Impaired Driving in Virginia?

Virginia Code § 18.2-266 states that it is against the law for anyone to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08 percent or higher. Even if your BAC is lower, you can be considered under the influence if your ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired. In addition to alcohol, it’s also against the law to drive while under the influence of narcotics or other drugs to a degree that inhibits your ability to safely operate your vehicle. In Virginia, a first-time DUI is categorized as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Virginia Beach

Although the penalties for a DUI in Virginia are lower for first-time offenders than they are for individuals with more than one offense, they’re still quite serious. Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence. If you are convicted of a first-time DUI offense, the potential penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine between $250 and $2,500, or both. You can also have your driver’s license revoked for one year, and you’ll have to attend an alcohol education class.

If your BAC was between .15 and .20, and you’re convicted of the DUI, you could face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days as part of your sentence. If your BAC was .20 or higher, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is ten days. You can read more about the penalties for driving under the influence and the penalties for subsequent DUI convictions in §18.2-270 of the Virginia Code.

Even after you have completed your sentence, a DUI conviction can haunt you for years to come. Having a criminal conviction on your permanent record could make it harder to obtain employment, hinder your ability to apply for housing and loans, and prevent you from applying for financial aid. You’re also likely to see your insurance premiums go up. That’s why it is critical to have a strong defense against the charges.

Possible Defenses to DUI Charges in Virginia Beach

With the help of an experienced Virginia Beach DUI defense lawyer, it might be possible to get your charges reduced or tossed out. These are some of the most common DUI defenses:

  • Police misconduct – If the police officer didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to pull you over but did so based on “instinct” or a “hunch,” your traffic stop might have been unlawful. A lack of reasonable suspicion can be a strong defense. Similarly, if you were arrested, but the police officer who detained you lacked sufficient evidence to meet the “probable cause” standard, they may have violated your rights.
  • Invalid field sobriety test – We may argue that your field sobriety test can’t be relied upon if the test was improperly conducted.
  • Inaccurate breathalyzer test results – Breathalyzer test results are less reliable and easier to challenge than blood test results. If the officer who administered your breathalyzer test was not properly trained, or the device was improperly calibrated and poorly maintained, we may be able to challenge the breath test results.
  • Rising BAC – Depending on your BAC at the time of arrest, we may be able to argue that your BAC was actually below the legal limit before you were pulled over but rose above the legal limit by the time you were detained and tested.

These are just a few of the defenses that our Virginia Beach criminal defense attorneys have used to defend clients in past DUI cases. If you hire our team, we will craft a strong, tailored defense strategy on your behalf and protect your rights throughout the legal process.

Contact a Virginia Beach DUI Defense Lawyer

A DUI conviction can have a significant, negative impact on your life. The Virginia Beach drunk driving defense lawyers at Pincus Goodman, P.C., have the skills and experience to help you fight the charges against you. Contact us today at (757) 301-9634 for a consultation to discuss the details of your DUI case.

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